LAHORE : International Cricket Council (ICC) Chief Executive Officer David Richardson has said that the World XI tour to Pakistan is a stepping stone towards the revival of international cricket .

Speaking at a press briefing here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday, Richardson said: “We strongly believe that hosting the World XI would be a step forward towards building confidence of sporting community. It’s a long and gradual process and soon it will start improving and help Pakistan convince other cricket playing nations to come and play here.

“It’s, in fact, a stepping stone in right direction. To grow the capability and to build the confidence, the next step is to grow and improve the capability in cities outside Lahore and build the confidence in teams like Australia and England to visit Pakistan, in fact, all the cricket teams,” he added.

Richardson thanked the Pakistani people for their warm welcome and hospitality to the World XI and hoped that they would have very wonderful and exciting series which would quench their thirst of watching international cricket at home.

He acknowledged the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) efforts for the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. “The efforts made by Pakistan especially by its all security agencies are commendable. Security is not just Pakistan’s concern, but the entire world’s. But I must admit that Pakistan has improved the security.”

The ICC chief executive said security teams are satisfied with the arrangements in Lahore , adding that the security situation in Pakistan has improved. "The PCB and security agencies deserve due credit for successfully hosting the event," he said.

When asked it is a perception that the ICC favours India more than Pakistan, Richardson said it is a wrong perception. "India is a very powerful cricketing country and very strong too, so it has a very strong voice at the ICC . But the fact remains that we have 12 members, and India doesn't have any more voice than any other member." He added that the current circumstances between India and Pakistan are more driven by the political circumstances.

To a query regarding no India player in the World XI, he said: “The fact is that you can’t ignore political situation between the two countries while another reason is that India has very busy FTP. They also need extra security so I think the Andy Flower and the PCB has preferred practical approach in this regard.”

Richardson also appreciated both the teams particularly the World XI for coming and playing a series in Pakistan. “This is a very good example that cricket world family has been contributing together to help a country in restoring international cricket there.”

When asked about allowing Pakistan a bilateral series, he said: “It’s not the ICC which schedules bilateral series between two countries but actually, when two countries agree, then a bilateral series is held. So it’s up to the PCB to convince a member country to visit Pakistan but for this, first they have to further improve their security.”

Richardson praised the PCB for having a very good domestic structure, which helped Pakistan survive even without having international cricket at home. “In such a tough situation, when there is no international cricket at home, it is Pakistan’s very good domestic structure, which helped them survive at international level. I hope with this World XI tour, they will start hosting more international teams and the level of Pakistan cricket will improve further.”

‘Ice-breaking event’

PCB Chairman Najam Sethi termed the World XI tour to Pakistan an ice breaking event, which, he said, will prove gateway for other international teams.

“First we have World XI here, and gradually, the ICC and other cricket playing nations will have faith in us and we will surely succeeded in hosting full-fledged series. We are keen to bring international cricket to Pakistan, we are keen to show Pakistan’s peace and sports loving image to the entire world.”

Sethi thanked the ICC chief executive David Richardson for coming and watching the World XI matches. “Hosting the World XI was our idea which was fully endorsed and promoted by Richardson and Giles Clarke and others, for which we are really grateful to them. It will help us maintain our momentum of hosting more and more international teams.”

Sethi admitted that a reason for spectators not turning up to watch the match was the high price of tickets for the series. The first match between the two teams on Tuesday could not get a full house at Gaddafi Stadium . He said the board would learn from this and make a better price list next time. “You are absolutely right about prices. We made a mistake by setting such high prices.”

He said the PCB, while setting prices for the tickets, was misled by the trend it witnessed during the PSL final in Lahore earlier in March. “We were misled by the trend we saw in PSL when prices were unimportant and irrelevant and people paid high prices to come and witness the event,” he added.

The PCB chief also highlighted that some people did not turn up due to strict security arrangements at various points in the city. “The security was so tight that many people from different areas couldn’t reach or went back home,” he said. “We can do very little about it as, despite our requests, the Punjab government is relentless in providing security,” he added.