Wasim Khan Convinced Australia, England would take Sri Lanka’s lead and Visit Pakistan   

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer Wasim Khan believes it is realistic to expect Australia and England to return to Pakistan under the current future tours programme, following the planned resumption of Test cricket in the country with Sri Lanka’s visit next month.

Khan hopes that Sri Lanka’s “hugely symbolic” return for two Tests, along with staging the entire Pakistan Super League in the country next year, will continue to change the perception about Pakistan.

The PCB has recently hosted Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts and his counterparts at the ECB, Tom Harrison, and Cricket Ireland, Warren Deutrom.

Khan said that they all left with positive impressions of the security situation in Pakistan, and invitations to tour have been extended to South Africa, Ireland and Afghanistan, while Bangladesh are scheduled to tour in January under the Future Tour Programs.

“Do I think that’s realistic? Absolutely.

Can it happen? I think it’s a case of ongoing dialogue working closely with players’ associations”, Khan said.

“The first big step was to get Kevin and Tom to come over, which they committed to and really threw themselves into, which is superb. The FTP, the next two or three years, it gives us the opportunity to take small steps. It’s not going to happen overnight, we need to continue to build confidence on what we do.

“Our greatest selling point is word of mouth from players – 260 foreign players from across 15 countries registered for the draft, which shows how far we’ve come.

I’m hoping that will accelerate people’s thinking in wanting to come and visit. We just have to be consistent in our approach with every country,” Khan said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

Khan said that first-hand experience of Pakistan is the best way to see the progress that has been made.

“The one big thing is that I think there’s a perception about Pakistan and what exists there, it’s not until you get there that you realise the reality is very different,” he said. “I think everyone who came over had a really good experience”.

While Khan focuses a lot of his efforts into the long-term plans for international cricket in Pakistan, the performance of the national teams also remains at the forefront.

The Test side begins its World Test Championship campaign at the Gabba, then the team heads into a new World Cup cycle and tries to arrest a slide in its T20I form, even as the women’s team prepares for the T20 World Cup in Australia.

“We are sitting seventh in Tests, sixth in ODIs – that is a concern for us and something we want to address”, he said.

“We want to be walking out at Lord’s in 2021 for the Test Championship final, there’s a number of ICC events coming up and we go in to win every one.

It’s also about focusing on the long game for Pakistan, which is about sustainable success, in order to do that you’ll have to go through some pain again and again to get to where we want to.

“The number of central contracts for women was reduced from 17 to ten this year but the value increased, alongside further enhancements such as business class travel.

Khan has also been encouraged by Nida Dar’s stint in the WBBL with the Sydney Thunder, and wants to use that as a catalyst for further growth.

“Nida will come back a better cricketer for this experience and for us it is about providing as much of that as possible,” he said.

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