LAHORE - Pakistan's restored cricket chief Najam Sethi said Thursday that his board is inviting Sri Lanka to play a home series, five years after they survived a terrorist attack.
The move by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) came two days after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse promised his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain to send his cricket team during a meeting on the sidelines of a summit in China. "We are sending a letter of invitation to Sri Lanka Cricket today after their president promised to send his country's cricket team to Pakistan and we hope for a positive outcome," said Sethi, who was holding his first press conference after being restored as chairman of the PCB management committee by Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday, four days after an Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruling suspended him and reinstated Zaka Ashraf.
No foreign team has toured Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven visiting players. "We are ready to host them, have mentioned the gap in our cricket commitments and want to use this opportunity," said Sethi. "Our top priority is to host an international team and we are making efforts for that."
Sethi was holding his first press conference after being restored as chairman of the PCB management committee by Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday, four days after a Islamabad high court ruling suspended him and reinstated Zaka Ashraf. Since the 2009 attacks Pakistan have been forced to play their home series in United Arab Emirates. Bangladesh twice agreed to play short limited-over series in Pakistan to end their isolation but each time backed out for security reasons.
Pakistan is set to tour Sri Lanka in August to play two Tests and three one-day internationals. They will then host Australia and New Zealand in the United Arab Emirates from October 3 to December 19. They are scheduled to host Zimbabwe in December to January, but that period could be utilised to host Sri Lanka.
Speaking on recent developments regarding PCB chairmanship fiasco, he said the Prime Minister of Pakistan was patron-in-chief of the cricket board, who, he said, was responsible for appointing the PCB chairman. “There shouldn’t be any point scoring on the issue as it can harm the national interest,” said Sethi.
Answering a question about rooting out corruption from Pakistan cricket, the chairman said that this was one of the reasons he wanted Rashid Latif as chief selectors to send the right message, but unfortunately it could not materialize and hoped that he would be able to persuade him to have a role in the future. “I admit the board is not ‘clean’ of corruption. That’s why we selected Rashid Latif as chief selector,” he added.
He also asked the players to remain hopeful and ready as the board was trying to bring cricket back to Pakistan. On the inquiry of reporters about the constitution, Sethi told them that the draft of the constitution had been sent for approval. “It will clarify the ambiguity regarding elections in the board,” he said. Sethi dispelled the notion that the International Cricket Council (ICC) was concerned about the matters related to Pakistan cricket.