Going back: Upswing in foreigners for Pakistan’s T20 league

Pakistan Cricket Progress In this Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 photo, a worker install a cut-out of huge bats next to a poster of cricketers displays along roadside in preparation of the upcoming Pakistan Super League, in Karachi, Pakistan. (AP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Going back: Upswing in foreigners for Pakistan’s T20 league

  • Security concerns stopped foreign cricketers from touring Pakistan four years ago
  • Pakistan Cricket Board says foreign players coming to Pakistan is a ‘huge bonus’

ISLAMABAD: Security concerns stopped foreign cricketers from touring Pakistan four years ago when the country’s premier domestic Twenty20 tournament was launched, forcing organizers to stage the event on neutral turf in the United Arab Emirates.
When the 2020 edition of the Pakistan Super League starts in Karachi on Thursday, Darren Sammy of the West Indies and Shane Watson of Australia will be among 36 foreign cricketers involved in the six franchises.
“The foreign players coming is a huge bonus for us,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan told the Associated Press. “It’s a massive step forward because they (foreign players) clearly believe that it’s safe to be here for 4-5 weeks.”
The return of international cricket has been a slow process in Pakistan following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team’s bus in Lahore during a test series in 2009.
For this T20 event, the PCB has worked with the Federation of International Cricketers Association and also shared its security plans with foreign stars to make them feel safe in Pakistan.
“We firmly believe now that we are in a good position,” Wasim said. “We’re delighted there are so many players coming here and it’s a great endorsement for us as a country.”
Pakistan cricket went into isolation for more than six years after the attack near Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore in 2009.
There was a ray of hope in 2015 when Zimbabwe toured for limited-overs series but it wasn’t enough for Pakistan to host its first PSL tournament the following year, forcing organizers to stage it in the UAE.
In 2017, the PSL final was played at a packed Qaddafi Stadium, in stark contrast to the group-stage matches that were contested in mostly empty venues in the UAE.
Over the next two years, a World XI, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies also played limited-overs matches in Pakistan, and more PSL games were staged in Lahore and Karachi.
The PCB overcame another barrier when it hosted test matches last year in Pakistan for the first time in a decade. Pakistan successfully hosted two tests against Sri Lanka in December and, after a lot of negotiations, last month managed to convince Bangladesh to play a test in Rawalpindi.
All the ‘cricket comes home’ activities, of course, require heavy security surrounding the foreign teams, with the kind of armed security and road closures usually reserved for visiting heads of state. Visiting players have had virtually no movement outside the team hotels or match venues — although a few Sri Lanka players went to a shopping mall while they stayed in the federal capital.
But Wasim believes that over time, the blanket security can be eased and players will feel more relaxed.
“Certainly it’s something that we are looking at,” he said. “The more we play at home, the more confidence people have, the better it will become. We certainly can’t sustain state-level security.”
More freedom of movement for visiting players and ensuring costs for security don’t overburden federal and local governments has to be balanced, Wasim said, with “making sure we never become complacent and we provide the right level of security.”
In a bid to reassure cricket officials from countries such as Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa about the security situation, Pakistan invited the Marylebone Cricket Club — the guardians of the laws of cricket — for limited-overs matches in Lahore.
Led by ex-Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara, who is also MCC president, the players have had VIP-level security, which is a slightly lower level than that provided to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka squads for recent series.
“MCC has played golf ... so we’ve given them the level of freedom which under VIP status you can afford. Certainly, that’s something that we wish to move forward as well,” Wasim said.
Sangakkara has also backed Pakistan’s efforts to resume international cricket in Pakistan.
“Security is always a major concern everywhere is the world,” Sangakkara said. “In Pakistan I think the steps that have been taken over the past few years have instilled great amounts of confidence in the cricketing nations beyond the shores of Pakistan and slowly but surely that confidence is building up.
“The more times international sides tour that message becomes stronger and becomes harder to ignore.”
And Wasim believes the need for Pakistan to ‘host’ international cricket series in neutral countries is closer to ending.
“There’s no reason for us to play anywhere else now,” Wasim said. “Cricket has firmly resumed within the country and we fully expect this to be the way moving forward.”


Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

Updated 28 March 2020

Chinese doctors, coronavirus relief supplies arrive in Pakistan

  • FM Qureshi received the medical team at Islamabad airport
  • Chinese government and private donations for coronavirus relief includes test kits, PPE, face masks and funding support for an isolation hospital

ISLAMABAD: A special plane from China carrying an eight member medical team and relief assistance for Pakistan’s fight against the coronavirus touched down in Islamabad on Saturday, according to state-owned Radio Pakistan.
The novel coronavirus first broke out in China’s Hubei province late last year, and was declared a global pandemic by the WHO in January 2020. To date, it has claimed about 28,000 deaths around the world with surging rates of infection.
Through stringent containment measures, China was able to stem virus cases on its soil, and this week, the original epicenter of the deadly outbreak, Wuhan City, relaxed lockdown measures for the first time in months. Pakistan’s current cases of the infection stand at roughly 1,400 with 11 people dead and the numbers rising every day. Partial lockdowns have been imposed in some provinces.
China’s state assistance to its western neighbor so far includes 12,000 test kits, 300,000 face masks, 10,000 protective suits for health care workers on the disease front-lines, as well as funding support to build an isolation hospital, according to the foreign office.
The medical team from China are experts in dealing with the coronavirus and will remain in Pakistan for two weeks, the foreign office said. FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi personally received the Chinese medial experts at Islamabad airport.
“We are grateful, this is a unique relationship. And such times tell us how close we are to each other,” Qureshi said at the event.
Additionally, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s Foundation and the Ali Baba foundation have donated 50,000 test kits and 500,000 face masks to Pakistan, the foreign office said.
Through the Khunjerab Pass earlier this week, China also provided over two tons of masks, test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment. Pakistan has also been the recipient of considerable private donations from China.
Earlier this month, President Arif Alvi and a contingent of high level officials including FM Qureshi visited Beijing to express solidarity with China in its fight against the virus.