Pakistan Monday announced the return of international cricket to its soil, with three separate sides scheduled to visit after years of isolation over security concerns.
A World XI tour kicks off in September followed by a short visit by Sri Lanka for a Twenty20 match in October, then a Twenty20 series against the West Indies a month later.
“We are getting positive signals and the doors of international cricket are opening on Pakistan,” Najam Sethi, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, told a press conference in Lahore.
The tours are seen as a big step towards Pakistan once again hosting major international outfits after militants targeted the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009, killing eight people and wounding at least seven players.Since the attacks Pakistan has only hosted a limited-over series against Zimbabwe in 2015 while Bangladesh, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Ireland turned down offers over security fears.
Pakistan has also been forced to play their cricket in the UAE for the past eight years including two editions of the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 (PSL).
But security has dramatically improved across Pakistan in the last two years, signalling hopes for the slow revival of international sport in the country.
In March, Pakistan successfully hosted the PSL final in Lahore with English players Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan, West Indies’ Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels and South Africa’s Morne van Wyk and Zimbabwe’s Sean Ervine competing.
The match’s success pushed the PCB to expedite efforts to convince more teams to play in Pakistan.
“We will play a full series with Sri Lanka in the UAE after which Sri Lanka will come to Lahore for a Twenty20, so things are shaping up,” said the PCB boss.
Sethi said he will announce the names of World XI players in the coming days, with the team being managed by former England coach Andy Flower.