ICC congratulates Pakistan on successful hosting of Independence Cup

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LONDON: The International Cricket Council (ICC), the game’s global governing body, has congratulated Pakistan “for the successful staging of the Pakistan versus the World XI series for the Independence Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.”

In separate messages, ICC Director Giles Clarke and Chief Executive David Richardson have thanked Pakistani fans for “embracing the World XI players”, noting that the series had highlighted “Pakistan’s passion and love for cricket, as well as its ability to provide an environment in which international cricket stars can show their talent.”

Still, the ICC executives said the series was a small step towards the “safe and steady revival” of international cricket in the country, with the ICC’s release stating the next step would be a tour by a full member country as opposed to a composite side.

Pakistan is looking to host Sri Lanka and West Indies in the near future, which will prove an acid test for the country’s readiness to welcome back international fixtures to the country.

“The reception the team received was quite extraordinary, and for all of us, we did our best to interact with the crowd,” Clarke, who attended the first two matches, said.

“The reaction of the Pakistanis who were at the ground is something I have never seen in my life. They were so pleased, saying thank you, and they were so excited by the players being there.

“I felt the tour unleashed the deep and powerful emotions that exist around cricket in this country’s makeup and its society,” he added.

Recalling that the series had presented an “enormous challenge”, Clarke noted that it had required a tremendous economic sacrifice but that the planning by all government agencies and security advisors was “extraordinarily competent” and “detailed”.

“I think this courageous team, its management and all the people in Pakistan who have been involved, have demonstrated that it is possible for overseas players to come to Pakistan and show their skills in Pakistan and be able to give the people of Pakistan the chance to watch their own heroes in action against the best international players,” he added.

“From my point of view, as Chairman of the ICC’s Pakistan Task Team, I am very pleased that we have accomplished this and I am sure the players will talk to their colleagues and we will see the return of bilateral international cricket to Pakistan.”

Richardson, who was present for the second T20 match, said: “One of the main reasons for staging the tour was as a stepping stone to building the confidence that even though there may be some danger to staging sports events or visiting Pakistan, the Pakistan security agencies are more than capable of mitigating that threat.”

Calling the tour a “success”, he hoped that the returning international players would tell their teammates that “although there may be some level of risk, it can be managed successfully.”