Karachi: Former Pakistan players are in favour of resumption of bilateral cricket ties with India but have doubts over playing a short series this year due to archrivals’ packed international calender.
Former Pakistani captains Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad and Rashid Latif feel that a series is possible on a neutral venue later in 2011 if both Indian and Pakistan governments work out the modalities.
“If both the governments want, then a short series is possible this year itself at any venue. If the Indian government asks the BCCI to organise a series, then the Indian Board will definitely try to find a time slot,” Zaheer said.
“The revival of Indo-Pak cricket ties is going to be a very positive development and it was great to see our premier and government officials visiting Mohali for the World Cup semi-final. It is very important for the development of cricket in this region and also for the betterment of international cricket that Pakistan and India should play regular Test and ODI series,” he said.
India severed cricket links with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but a high-profile World Cup semi-final between the two nations in India in March raised hopes of a revival, albeit at neutral venues.
The semi-final, won by India by 29 runs on their way to clinching the World Cup title, was watched by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani -- at an occasion that was quickly being dubbed as “cricket diplomacy”.
Pakistan’s status as an international cricket host came to an end with attacks on the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009.
Zaheer also noted that even from a business and financial point of view, an Indo-Pak series meant lot of money for the boards, players and commercial entities.
“A Pakistan and India series in the near future could generate immense resources,” he added.
But former great Javed Miandad said he didn’t see prospects of a series this year because of the tight international calender of the Indian team.
“I don’t think we must rush things from our side because the Indian team is busy this year. But the Pakistan board must plan ahead for a series next year,” he said.
Miandad said he supported the resumption of Indo-Pak cricket ties but felt it was of utmost importance that both teams also play Tests in their revival series.
Former wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif said there were some stark realities Pakistan has to face like no foreign teams wishing to tour the country because of the volatile security situation.
“I don’t support this concept of having matches at neutral venues because it robs the series of its charm and importance. Playing in Pakistan or India is entirely different and the atmosphere and expectations are different. I think if need arises Pakistan can go and play in India to start off this revival process,” he said.
Latif had no doubt that a series with India was very important for Pakistan from every point of view.
“I can understand the eagerness of the Pakistan board to organise a series even a short one because it will improve their financial health a lot. But even from a cricket point of view, a series with India is important as we are trying out new players and playing the arch-rivals always is a big test for any player,” he added.
Pakistan, under the ICC’s future tours program, were due to tour India in March-April 2012 for a full series but the PCB had said that it will try to convince the Indian board to squeeze out a time slot for a short one-day series this year itself.