The Telegraph
Friday , January 4 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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PCB chief harps on bonhomie

Zaka Ashraf

Calcutta: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashraf feels the latest revival of cricketing ties with India shouldn’t be restricted to just the five matches and both the Boards should look at carrying it forward.

“The ties shouldn’t be restricted to just the five matches... I don’t think we are far off from a day when India will tour Pakistan. The process will take some time but things are definitely moving forward,” Ashraf said.

So, why can’t we have ties where bilateral series between the countries are held regularly much like Ashes? “We’ve floated the idea with the BCCI. We are keen on an Ashes-like series every year or every alternate year. We can also have a trophy earmarked for such a series.”

The PCB chairman said that a dialogue is on with the BCCI on a return tour by India. “We are working with the BCCI. We could have it sometime in August... But it’s still not certain whether the matches will be played in Pakistan or at a neutral venue.

“This relationship should move forward. Things are much better now in Pakistan... There’s no security threat. The terrorists are nowhere near the places where cricket is played and are hiding in the remote areas of the far North.”

Why did Bangladesh call off their tour when things seemed to be in place for a return of international cricket to Pakistan? “If you ask me about it I feel the fear factor prevailed at the back of their minds. The Bangladesh security team visited Pakistan and were satisfied.

The security team did a few rehearsals and never pointed out to any lack of security during their visits. Even a few international sides have played cricket without any hindrance in Pakistan recently. Nothing happened and the players were more than happy to be in Pakistan.

“I think the 2009 unfortunate incident where terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus was playing at the back of their minds. I can assure you there’s no fear of that kind and things are safe,” Ashraf remarked.

He also attributed the revival to his and BCCI president Narayanswamy Srinivasan’s business acumen. “The understanding was never so good. Both Srinivasan and myself have a business background and know the importance of a cordial relationship. Things are gradually moving in a positive way. ”

Ashraf also informed that the ICC has been very supportive of international cricket returning to Pakistan. On Bangladesh Cricket Board president Mustafa Kamal’s observation that the tour was called off because neutral umpires weren’t available, Ashraf said: “I would request him to restrict his views to themselves and not start the blame game... They should first stand by their commitments.”