After 10 years of Sri Lanka cricket team being attacked in Lahore, it seems that the world has started to trust Pakistan as a safe place once again. In a gradual rehabilitation of the game in Pakistan, the PCB has struggled long and hard to first bring PSL back home and then inviting teams like Zimbabwe, World XI and now Sri Lanka – the very team which was attacked – to play cricket series in Pakistan. Currently, the Sri Lankan cricket team is touring Pakistan for 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is.
After spending a couple of weeks in the country, the players and the management both seem pretty satisfied with the security arrangements in the country which are nothing less than what’s given to the head of states. And, once it gets completed without any issues, both the countries are hoping to play the Test series in December as well.
The PCB has been trying long and hard for the revival of cricket in the country and, in its recent efforts, it’s been in the talks with all the major cricketing nations and their respective boards for staging Cricket series in Pakistan. The security delegations from different countries are already visiting Pakistan to assess security conditions in the country. Australia is set to visit Pakistan in 2022 and their security delegation just had a visit to the country last month for initial evaluation. More boards are interested in sending their security teams to Pakistan as well for an overall assessment of the security plan and how the security is like in the country right now.
Amidst all this, the world legends and international cricketers and commentators have also started speaking up for Pakistan. In fact, they have declared the country safe for cricket. Making private tours to the country, some of the known voices in cricket fraternity had all the great things to say about Pakistan and the security conditions in the country. Let’s have a look at what people are saying about cricket’s revival in Pakistan.
Michael Holding, the legendary West Indian fast bowler and current cricket commentator, was on a personal tour to Pakistan during Sri Lanka cricket series. He, along with a few others, was invited by Dr. Kashif Ansari – a known cricketing voice in the country.
Expressing his views about Pakistan and Pakistan cricket Holding said, “This country as we all know loves cricket, loves to be involved in cricket and not just want to watch it on the television. They love to be involved, go to the game, sit down in the stands, add to the atmosphere, and that’s what we’re hoping is not too far away for Pakistan.”
“People in Pakistan will be able to go to the grounds, sit down in the grounds, have the great atmosphere of Test match cricket, not only the shorter format, and be a part of that great atmosphere,” he added.
Holding also said that he hopes to come back to the country and that too for watching some live cricket. Besides the event, the West Indian great was hosted by former Pakistan star Shahid Afridi and was also taken to the streets of the city exploring it and enjoying like a normal citizen. He even had pictures with his fans at the Dolmen Mall.
Michael Holding really is a big name in the cricketing world first due to his bowling career for West Indies and then because of him being a renowned commentator in cricket for years. So, these words from him declaring Pakistan a safe place not only for cricket but to be here as well really counts a lot towards how things are moving ahead for the revival of cricket in the country. This endorsement will surely allow the authorities in world’s top cricket boards to change their perspective and star sending players and teams to Pakistan in near future.
Alongside Michael Holding, Barry Wilkinson was also on this short tour to Pakistan. The budding commentator has already had commentary experience in some of biggest games including the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Final. He also had some good thoughts about the security conditions in Pakistan and his words will also be taken seriously across the cricket fraternity.
“Since I stepped out of the plane, I do not want to leave Karachi. This has been the most peaceful, most loving place that I have been to in a very long time. Pakistani people have shown me such a loving side, the security here has been unbelievable and I don’t even think you need all of that security to be honest because it is an extremely safe place,” Wilkinson said.
The commentator also said that growing up he has always loved the atmosphere at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore and the passion of the crowd always had something special about it. He so badly wanted to be there and enjoy the game of cricket and that particular atmosphere in the ground. He is also confident that soon the cricket teams from around the world will get a chance to play in Pakistan and the cricket will be revived in the country.
“In not so distant future, I not only see Pakistan playing Test matches against more cricket teams like England, Australia, and West Indies but I also see a World Event being held here in Pakistan. I want to say to the ICC that Pakistan is open for International cricket again. It is safe, it is secure, and it is indeed a place of love,” he added.
He was also presented with honors alongside Michael Holding from the organizers of the event in Karachi. The West Indian commentator was also excited to watch the T20I matches at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.
Even though we didn’t see any statement coming from Jason Roy about how safe it is to travel to Pakistan and play cricket here, his actions did endorse the statement.
The English batsman was first here in Pakistan for the Pakistan leg of the PSL 2019 and featured in all the games for his franchise.
Later, he visited the country towards the end of September for a commercial shoot alongside the legendary Younis Khan. This time, he travelled alone and didn’t have the company of his fellow teammates from PSL. Nevertheless, he did enjoy a great time with the former Pakistan batsman and was spotted dining at some local restaurant. The pictures of this meeting also went viral.
So, despite the fact that he didn’t have much to say about the security situation in the country, he himself being here in Pakistan is a big positive for the cricket coming back to Pakistan. Players from all over the world can take it as a positive sign for the security conditions in the country.
On his tour to Pakistan as ODI captain for team Sri Lanka, Lahiru Thirimanne admired the security given to them and said the security arrangements in the country were “first-class”.
Talking to media ahead of the ODI series, the Sri Lankan captain said that his team would give their best and the focus of the players was the game only rather than the security.
“The security has been really good and I must say it’s first-class. We didn’t have any problems. The facilities here are really good,” Thirimanne said.
He was of the opinion that the Sri Lanka Cricket had discussed the security plan with them and they didn’t have any issues with that. He said that he was in Pakistan for the first time and he “heard from the players who visited here previously on the T20 matches two years back.”
“The security was really great so I heard about it but I didn’t see anything. But the last couple of days, when I see the security we’ve been given here, it’s first-class.”
“It’s about getting cricket here in Pakistan again so we have to encourage all the teams to come here and play cricket,” he added.
Responding to a question, the Sri Lanka captain said that he felt great to be involved in something historic and crucial to the Pakistan’s cause of bringing cricket back to the country. “It’s a very special occasion for all of Pakistan,” he said.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board have been really great [at] organizing this tournament here in Pakistan so I think… like I said, we have to give all the support to Pakistan to establish cricket here,” he added.
“I can only say that I’ve experienced [the security] here because I came here and I saw the security plan so I can only say that. The thing is that you have to first come here and experience that and it’s a good opportunity,” the Sri Lankan captain stressed.
After the Sri Lanka tour, “maybe a lot of teams will come, a lot of teams will follow us and support Pakistan,” Thirimanne was hopeful.
Now, this kind of affirmation from somebody who is from the league of players who are actually playing cricket right now is something big. And, given that Thirimanne has experienced it first hand and was in Pakistan with his entire team means much more than that. His words will, probably, be the best endorsement for the wonderful security conditions in Pakistan.
Former Pakistan head coach, Mickey Arthur, was also a great advocate of improved security situation in the country. He didn’t only stay in Pakistan for a few years during his tenure as Pakistan head coach but also worked in the same capacity with the PSL franchise Karachi Kings. He visited the country every time with his franchise team and, obviously, all the coaching stuff with Pakistan national side went on within the country.
He said multiple times that the security agencies in the country have done a great job to ensure top-grade security for the visiting sides. He was coaching Pakistan when they played landmark series against Zimbabwe and the World XI too.
Roshan Abeysinghe, the popular cricket commentator from Sri Lanka, has also urged normalcy to come back to Pakistan cricket with more international teams touring the country. Abeysinghe is also the part of the team of commentators who are visiting Pakistan to cover the historic Sri Lanka-Pakistan ODI and T20I series. He’s been in the country right from the start of the tour and has assessed the security situation in Pakistan from inside out.
The former first-class star from Sri Lanka declared Pakistan to be an ideal choice to host cricket as the cricket-loving nation carries immense passion and love for the game.
“Absolutely, no doubts on the love and passion the people of Pakistan have for cricket. It is amazing to see them cheering the game here at NSK. They deserve much more than this,” he said.
Abeysinghe was of the view that this stigma linked to the security conditions in Pakistan should be removed now as his experience here was fantastic and he felt the place to be perfectly safe and secure.
“I don’t feel any danger here. Everything is positive, the security has been fantastic and apart from security, the hospitality here wins the heart,” Abeysinghe highlighted.
The cricketer-turned-commentator had also visited Pakistan a couple of years back for the sole T20I match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And now, after a full-blown series, he’s more positive and urges other teams to come play in Pakistan too.
Vloggers Supporting Pakistan as a Safe Place to Visit
Besides the cricketing legends, there are some of the top vloggers of the world who have lately been on a mission to portray the positive image of the country. There have been some top vloggers who have declared Pakistan safe to travel and Eva Zu Beck and Drew Binsky are the top names in that regard.
Eva Zu Beck
The popular travel vlogger from Poland, Eva Zu Beck, managed to win hearts of the Pakistanis through her social media posts that laud the beautiful undiscovered gems of Pakistan. Though her focus was, primarily, on promoting tourism in the country, this had a lot to do with the satisfactory security situation in Pakistan.
Eva had received a lot of attention across Pakistan during her drive to introduce a positive image of the country to the world through her social posts. Whatever she shares is filled with a lot of colors that celebrate the country’s beauty which has long been neglected by the foreign tourists during uncertain security condition of the country over last decade or so.
One of her post on Instagram read like, “This wasn’t the country I’d been told about by the Western Media. This was a country of profound emotion, profound struggle, profound beauty. And I opened my heart to it.”
She loved the hospitality she received in Pakistan too and shared her thoughts on that through various social posts of hers. Eva described the people in Pakistan full of love and emotion and she denies everything that is being told about them all over the world.
These certainly are the words of great appreciation and they defy all the statements about Pakistan being not so secure for the foreign visitors. So, if foreign tourists can visit Pakistan, then why can’t foreign teams?
Zu Beck’s fellow travel blogger from America, Drew Binsky, is also a big name in this fraternity and he’s being followed by millions of people around the world. He’s also part of the mission to bring tourism back to Pakistan and not only promote country’s beauty but also tell the world how safe this country is to travel to.
He’s been stunned by a lot of things that are great about the Pakistanis and the best of the lot is their hospitality. Binsky says he tells his American friends that they’d also be warmly welcomed in the country. Even though, at first, he wasn’t sure himself about the country’s security situation, but what he was welcomed with was just unexpected and unheard of.
In one of his videos that Binsky shared at his Facebook page, he told the story of how he didn’t spend money most of the times while he was traveling across the country “not by choice” but due to the fact that “the hospitality in Pakistan is so amazing that they won’t let me pay for anything.”
Binsky says he withdrew Rs. 28000 when he first arrived in the country and did not spend any of it.
“I came to Pakistan and I haven’t spent any money. Why? Because nobody will let me. Seriously. This is the world’s best hospitality, by a long shot,” the blogger wrote.
“Anywhere I go in the world, I always insist on paying whether it be for dinners, gifts, taxi, rides, experiences, you name it. But the people here in Pakistan [aggressively] won’t let me pay. It’s insane!!” he added.
According to him, it wasn’t his friends only who wouldn’t allow him to pay but “the random street vendors and people I meet especially here in Peshawar.” He also shared a video where he could be seen clearly refused by the street vendors to accept any money from him.
In another of his Instagram posts, Binsky wrote: “Along with Iran, Pakistan is the world’s most misconceived and misunderstood country. If you’re ever been here, then you’ll know…”
Now, that’s a big statement from an American, red-headed guy who takes his safety seriously. This is the message to everyone around the world across the board that Pakistan is a safe place to be very much like any other country of the world. And, these efforts from the travel bloggers and vloggers are certainly going to bring fruits to Pakistan cricket too.
So, there’s a lot going on as far as the cricket’s return to Pakistan is concerned. In fact, it has officially returned with the tour of team Sri Lanka and now it’s just the matter of when other international teams feel comfortable to travel to Pakistan for their home matches. We’d probably see Sri Lanka returning for a Test series in December and that would mark return of all three formats of the game to Pakistan. Let’s see how things shape up and who speaks up next in favor of the security situation in the country from other cricketing greats.