>Karachi: Pakistan cricket authorities are placing their hopes on a positive report from an international security company hired by the ICC to pave the way for the return of international teams to the country.
The security company, which is based in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and United Arab Emirates, will be accompanied by a representative of the Federation of International Players Association (FICA) during a visit to Lahore at the end of August.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Najam Sethi said the report by the security company would decide the planned tour by the World XI to Lahore followed by a visit by the Sri Lankan team for one, or a maximum of two, T20 matches.
"The ICC is helping us in our endeavours to revive international cricket in Pakistan. The company has a good reputation and we are very hopeful they will find all our security arrangements and plan to their satisfaction," Sethi said.
The World XI is scheduled to visit Lahore between 10 and 15 September to play three T20 matches with former Zimbabwean Test cricketer, Andy Flower presently assembling the proposed team.
Sethi said the security delegation would undertake a detailed visit for four days and meet with government officials and get assurances that all recommendations submitted by security experts who visited Lahore for the PSL final are implemented in the SOPs.
He said the government security officials had assured them that the recommendations of the security experts who came to Lahore in March had been implemented in the new SOPs.
Sethi said that the security company will send its delegation to Pakistan every year to review the security situation and arrangements and each visit will cost $400,000, which will be paid by the ICC.
"This process will continue for three years," he added.
The PCB chief said that the report of the security company will be very important for the PCB.
"It will basically pave the way for the return of international cricket to Pakistan and also for the PSL to be played in its home country."
He said the PCB wanted a FICA representative to accompany the ICC security company so that foreign players' concerns about playing in Pakistan are cleared.
Sethi made it clear that while he was thankful to the chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for giving a very positive message for Pakistan cricket, chairman of the PCB last week, insisted his main priority was to get international teams to visit Pakistan again and remove their misgivings about security in the country.
The initiative of hiring an international security agency to assess conduciveness in Pakistan is a two-fold assessment.
First, the global governing body of the sport has taken the thought of bringing international cricket back to Pakistan after nearly a decade on a very serious note. While the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final was played in Lahore earlier this year, and Zimbabwe made a short trip to the country two years ago, the ICC perhaps getting the prerequisite security clearances for the World XI, followed by the Sri Lankan team, is what will be a shot in the arm for the PCB.
The other point to note here is that of the ICC taking matters into their own hands by appointing an international security agency to monitor the situation instead of relying on Pakistani authorities. That shouldn't come across as a problem for PCB officials, for whom improving their quality of cricket by bringing international cricket back on home soil is of paramount importance.
International cricket has not had its presence felt in the country since the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009, which then isolated the insurgency-hit nation in the cricketing sphere.
With inputs from PTI View More