- Special Pages
JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan should be allowed to stage international cricket again, captain Misbah-ul-Haq said yesterday as his team prepared to face top-ranked South Africa in a three-Test series.
No Test series has been staged in Pakistan since armed militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan team in Lahore four years ago, killing eight locals and wounding six visiting players.
“Pakistan is such a big cricketing nation and the world has to think about bringing international cricket back to the country,” the 38-year-old right-hand batsman said.
“A Twenty20 tournament in Pakistan saw full stadiums for every game and there were no security concerns. The people should have international cricket,” he told a media conference.
Team manager Naveed Akram Cheema backed the views of Misbah, stressing that the security situation in the country was much safer than the outside world realised.
“There is a difference between perception and reality. Other teams do not come to Pakistan on the pretext of security concerns, but it is as safe as any other country in the world,” he said.
Misbah said having to play ‘home’ Tests abroad -- often in the United Arab Emirates cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi -- was affecting the competiveness of the team.
“It is very difficult when you are not playing a format on a regular basis -- you really have to work hard. You could say it is a limitation for us, but we are professionals and have to do well.
“We play only about five or six Tests a year while other countries play 15 or 16 a year. This really does affect our team,” he said ahead of the first Test from February 1 at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Pakistan will also play Tests in Cape Town and Centurion, two Twenty 20 internationals and five one-day internationals during a tour that stretches to late March.
Meanwhile, Ireland will play two one-day internationals at home to Pakistan in May, Cricket Ireland said yesterday
Pakistan will use the matches at yet to be specified venues on May 23 and May 26 as preparation for the ICC Champions Trophy starting on June 6.
“It’s fantastic news for Irish cricket, and we’re grateful to both ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board for making the series possible,” said Ireland coach Phil Simmons.
“Pakistan are a formidable one-day side and it’s a great way of measuring where we are as a team. We’ve had some wonderful tussles with them in the past, and for many, Irish cricket was born the day we beat them in the 2007 World Cup. Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore said: “We are eagerly awaiting our matches against the Irish team.
“Irish cricket has been improving consistently and we will be looking forward to some competitive games ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy.” AFP