Zaheer Abbas praises ICC role in bringing cricket back to Pakistan

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LAHORE: Former president of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Zaheer Abbas has praised the role of the governing body in the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan by sending the World XI to the cricket-starved country.

“ICC has done a tremendous job by supplementing the efforts of the Pakistan Cricket Board in bringing back international cricket and its role will always be remembered in Pakistan cricket history,” he told APP here on Thursday ahead of the third and last T20 international of the Independence Cup series.

Zaheer Abbas, a former Pakistan captain and a batting great, said that without the all-out support of the ICC it would not have been possible to arrange the tour of World XI, which has opened the doors of international cricket in Pakistan.

“Punjab government and our security agencies also played a paramount role in ensuring this elite cricket event by providing foolproof security to the foreign teams and officials,” he said.

“Dark nights of Pakistan cricket are finally over and a new era of cricket has begun in the country which is evident from the immense interest of crowd assembled during the first two T20 matches,” he added.

“Both (PCB and the ICC) worked hard together in close coordination to address the issue of return of international cricket and similar efforts are needed in future as well to have such international events in the country on regular basis,” he asserted.

The ‘Asian Bradman’ pointed out that during his stint with the ICC, he also encouraged and supported the moves of the PCB for the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan.

He said it was unfortunate that Pakistan was deprived of international cricket during the past nine years and its cricket arenas wore a deserted look and cricket suffered a lot.

Abbas appreciated the efforts of newly elected PCB chairman Najam Sethi in taking constructive measures for making it possible that foreign teams agree to visit Pakistan.

The former batting icon said that due to the PCB’s persistent efforts, Sri Lanka and West Indies have also agreed to visit Pakistan in coming months, which will be making Pakistan cricket ‘memorable’ as watching three foreign teams playing quality cricket will have a greater impact on national cricket.

“Cricket is a binding force and adds to national unity and brotherhood, it is the identity of Pakistan globally due to the country’s excellence because of the team’s success in World Cup years ago, and now in Champions Trophy,” he said, adding “the resumption of international cricket will help in enhancing the confidence and experience of the players while playing in their own stadiums in front of lively crowds.”