Whether the retinue of overseas cricketers make the trip or not, the final of the 2017 Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be held in Lahore in March, confirmed the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday (January 8).
The announcement was made even as Tony Irish, the executive chairman of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), told Wisden India that the security threat for foreign players in Pakistan remained “excessive and unmanageable”.
Back in October last year, Najam Sethi, the chairperson of the PSL, had announced that while the rest of the tournament would be held in Dubai and Sharjah, the final would be staged at Gaddafi Stadium, with the participating players flying in and flying out in a nod to the delicate security situation in the country.
According to a report in Dawn, the PCB confirmed on Sunday that they were working on the logistics to try and bring the international players to Lahore, and if the cricketers in question were uncomfortable with security arrangements, the PCB would chalk out a back-up plan to replace those players with local ones for the final.
Unconfirmed reports also suggest that the PCB could hold a separate draft in the last week of February to bring in foreign players who would be willing to travel to Lahore for the final in place of those who opt out.
The tournament starts on February 9 and the final is scheduled for March 7.
Irish, however, maintained that from the point of view of FICA, Pakistan wasn’t safe to tour.
“The Pakistani players don’t have a players association so aren’t affiliated to FICA. Players from around the world affiliated to FICA do, however, seek advice from FICA relating to security risks of playing in various countries. We rely on reports from our independent security consultants. In the past, the consistent advice from the security experts has been that risks to foreign players and teams of playing in Pakistan are excessive and unmanageable,” explained Irish in an email exchange.
“We are in the process of obtaining an updated report from the security consultants and will provide recommendations to players as soon as we have received this.
“Players play in T20 leagues as individuals and therefore each player makes an individual decision on whether or not to play in this match in Lahore. FICA’s role in these circumstances is to provide players with information and recommendations which may assist them in making that decision.”
There has been no international cricket in Pakistan since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus back in 2009, with Zimbabwe the only full-member team to tour Pakistan in 2015 for a short limited-overs series.
In a bid to revive international cricket in Pakistan, the PCB has also extended an invitation to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to tour Pakistan for a two-match Twenty20 Internationals series in Lahore on March 18 and 19. Reports suggest that the WICB has been considering the proposal, but will take a final decision based on security clearances from the West Indies Players’ Association.
If West Indies do visit Pakistan, there will be two reciprocal T20Is in Lauderhill in Florida, USA, ahead of Pakistan’s tour of the Caribbean in March-April.
India had also played two T20Is in Lauderhill after their four-Test series in the Caribbean in July-August 2016, with both matches drawing good crowds.