Islamabad — Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan could help the sport return to the country, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) managing director Alistair Campbell said yesterday.
Campbell is leading a four-member delegation from Zimbabwe to evaluate security arrangements for the two Twenty20s and three ODIs in Lahore this month.
“We’re very excited to be embarking on this adventure, I would call it,” Campbell said after visiting Gaddafi Stadium, which will host all the matches. “We’re very excited to see what’s ahead . . . and then look forward to (the) Zimbabwe cricket team arriving here on (the) 19th.”
Zimbabwe will be the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since 2009, when gunmen attacked a Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, killing six police officials, a van driver and wounding several Sri Lankan cricketers.
Since then, international cricket in Pakistan has been suspended because of security concerns of foreign teams, with the country hosting only minor teams like Kenya and Afghanistan.
Independent security experts from the International Cricket Council also accompanied the Zimbabwe delegation and were given a detailed briefing on security arrangements in and around the Gaddafi Stadium.
The talks between the Pakistan Cricket Board and Zimbabwe Cricket began last year before ZC finally agreed to tour Pakistan for a short series.
“You have to start somewhere (and) we are very excited to be here,” Campbell said. “Our team is excited to arrive here and play in Pakistan and get more cricket under their belt, get more experience under their belt.”
Initially, Pakistan planned some matches in Karachi, but the Zimbabwe players expressed concerns over extensive travelling, so the series will be played only in Lahore.
“I’ve played many times here in Pakistan, five-six tours,” Campbell said. “(I was) fortunate to tour the whole country, but this is the start, we start here in Lahore and hopefully in years to come we’ll come back and play in (the) rest of the country and resume normal relations with Pakistan.”
Campbell said he was satisfied with the security arrangements. “They’ve left no stone unturned to make sure that we will be safe,” he said. “We look forward to coming here. We’ve just (a) few more things to do this afternoon and we look forward to be back in (a) couple of weeks’ time to get down to real business, which is playing cricket.” — gulfnews