February 7, 2017 8:10:03 pm
“Foolproof security” will be provided to cricketers at the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore next month, league chairman Najam Sethi said on Tuesday.
Sethi briefed overseas PSL players in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a day before the Twenty20 league begins. All of the PSL will be played in the Emirates except for the final, which will be in Lahore on March 7.
It was in Lahore where the Sri Lanka team was attacked by terrorists in 2009. No major teams have returned since then.
A month ago, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations suggested overseas players should decline to play in the final because “participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed.” Just over a week ago, Giles Clarke, who heads the ICC’s Pakistan Task Team, went to Lahore at Pakistan’s request. He didn’t make a recommendation, but said “there’s a considerable amount of perception that needs to be changed.”
The league has attracted the likes of New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum, West Indies’ Darren Sammy, and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, and in an effort to ease player worries about Lahore, Sethi told them of the government’s security plans.
“The government has also made a huge investment in securing the city, and rest assured we will provide foolproof security to the players who will travel for the PSL final,” Sethi said in a statement.
He added security consultants will travel to Dubai during the PSL “to allay the doubts and fears of the players” about security in Lahore.
Wasim Akram, running Islamabad United in the PSL, reminded foreign players how six cricketers each from Pakistan and India played in Sri Lanka before the 1996 Cricket World Cup, despite Australia and the West Indies forfeiting their group matches in Sri Lanka due to security concerns.
“We played a positive role in 1996 that was warmly welcomed in Sri Lanka,” Akram said. “It is imperative that cricket returns to the country, Pakistanis are passionate about the game.
“My wife, who is an Australian, is staying in Karachi for the last four years and she is having a great time … the government will do everything possible to ensure the safety of the players.”
Ramiz Raja, another former test captain turned television commentator, who lives in Lahore, said if foreign cricketers played in the PSL final it will have a huge, positive effect on Pakistan cricket fans.
“The perceptions about the place might be muddled, but I can assure you that the players who will travel will be making a priceless contribution to Pakistan cricket,” Raja said. “Once you taste the flavor of cricket in the country you will come to realize how welcoming the crowds are.”
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