The International Cricket Council has congratulated Pakistan for the successful staging of the Independence Cup series against the World XI at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
In their messages, ICC Director Giles Clarke and ICC Chief Executive David Richardson thanked the people of Pakistan for embracing the World XI players, and said the series has demonstrated Pakistan’s passion and love for cricket, as well as its ability to provide an environment in which international cricket stars can show their talent, said a media release by the ICC on Saturday.
The officials hailed the series as a small step for Pakistan towards the “safe and steady revival of bilateral international cricket”, and indicated that the next step would be a tour by a Full Member country as opposed to a composite side.
“The reception the team received was quite extraordinary, and for all of us, we did our best to interact with the crowd,” said Clarke, who attended the first two matches in Lahore. “The reaction of the Pakistanis who were at the ground is something I have never seen in my life. They were so pleased, saying thank you, and they were so excited by the players being there.
“I felt the tour unleashed the deep and powerful emotions that exist around cricket in this country’s makeup and its society.
The ICC director hailed the efforts of the Punjab government and all authorities concerned for “equally extraordinarily competent detailed planning” which enabled the series to be staged successfully.
“I think this courageous team, its management and all the people in Pakistan who have been involved, have demonstrated that it is possible for overseas players to come to Pakistan and show their skills in Pakistan and be able to give the people of Pakistan the chance to watch their own heroes in action against the best international players,” he said.
Richardson, who attended the second T20I, lauded the security arrangements which were “implemented so well, we can call it a success.”
“.. Over the past 12 to 24 months, the improvements that have been made by the Pakistan security forces in, first of all, bringing the threat down and secondly, improvements made in security arrangements, that was a catalyst for now moving from that phase of playing international cricket in neutral territories to try to make an effort to bring international cricket back to Pakistan,” he said.
The ICC chief said the resumption of full-time international cricket in Pakistan is not going to be an “overnight miracle”.
“It has to take time. The PSL final was the first step, this is the second. We have now shown that events can be staged in one city over a short period of time in a Twenty20 format. Now, the next steps have to be taken, meaning can they be rolled out in more than one city over a longer period of time..”
“The warmth, that welcomed the players and teams back, was really heartening to see. Probably the fact that there is still such warmth and support for cricket has really been the reason why Pakistan has been able to be competitive even though it is not playing matches at home,” he stated.