ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Aziz Sethi is keen to bring international cricket back to Pakistan as early as possible and he will leave no stone unturned to ensure the revival of international cricket and ICC events in Pakistan as quickly as possible.

Talking to The Nation, Sethi said: “Critics should carry on criticising me, but they should also appreciate that it is Najam Sethi, who denied India from hosting the Under-19 Asia Cup and instead rights were allocated to Malaysia. I moved the resolution in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting, which I chaired as ACC head, while the hosting rights of next year’s Asia Cup were also deferred till next ACC meeting. The present situation between Pakistan and Indian governments is not ideal and Pakistan is a cricketing superpower and nobody can deny that reality, so being PCB chairman, it is my utmost effort to safeguard the rights of Pakistan cricket at every available forum and let me assure all, I will never compromise when it comes to Pakistan cricket.”

When asked about chances of table talk with BCCI, getting compensation from Indian board and Pakistan-India bilateral series revival, Sethi replied: “There is no chance that the BCCI come on table to settle the dispute. We had signed an agreement with the BCCI and that they had to play cricket with Pakistan, but they are not fulfilling their promise and then the case will be referred to the ICC dispute committee and within three months, the work will start on that. Being a Pakistani, I would love India to play bilateral series with Pakistan, but chances are slim in near future. Hopefully, the things will settle down and people of both the countries would be able to see their favourite cricketers in action in front of them.”

About the upcoming T20s with Sri Lanka in September, Sethi said: “I don’t know, who spread that news. The actual position is that Sri Lankan team is set to play a series against Pakistan next month in UAE. They had agreed in principle to play one or maybe two or all three T20s in October. The World XI tour holds the key for Pakistan cricket as they will play 3 matches here. Everything is in place and the PCB wants to finish the matches before September 15, not the Punjab government, as bye-elections would be on September 17. While head coach Micky Arthur also wants to start training camp before team’s departure to UAE for Sri Lanka series.”

When asked it would take at least Rs 25 million to conduct the World XI series and the PCB has to shoulder the expenditures as ICC is not ready to share, Sethi said: “It is not about how much money required to organise the World XI matches, it is about future of Pakistan cricket and we will spend money from our own pockets to ensure smooth and successful World XI tour. I don’t care whether sponsors lend a helping hand or not, I am keeping eye on future of international cricket revival in Pakistan.

“A lot depends upon World XI successful visit, so I hope and pray that with the help of our armed forces, the proposed World Xi visit would be highly successful and prove to be a gateway for international cricket revival. I can assure all that after the World XI tour, Sri Lanka will be the first international team to play matches in Pakistan, then it will be Bangladesh and others to follow,” he added.

The PCB chairman said people were laughing at him when he had decided to start Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2015, but after the highly successful first edition, critics started believing in his abilities. “When I announced the PSL final in Lahore, people once again laughed at me saying I am not in my senses and just making tall claims. But the way the PSL final was successfully host in Lahore, it proved the world that Pakistan is safe for hosting all kinds of international sports events.”

About PSL’s contribution towards Pakistan cricket, Sethi said: “The PSL has a huge impact on Pakistan cricket. Pakistan team was on a low especially in ODIs and we were lying down at lowly 9th place and were in real danger of missing out of playing in the Champions Trophy, but everybody witnessed the rise of the green caps. It was made possible by the PSL, as Pakistan team immediately found fresh talent, who started excelling at the very first opportunity, which other major leagues failed to deliver in the first or second year.  “We are going through rebuilding process. I can assure that let me work freely, I will not disappoint and promise to entire nation that Pakistan team would be a force to be reckon with in very short span of time. I welcome all suggestions and open to healthy criticism, but I am not going to melt under unwanted and uncalled for pressure tactics.

“My main objective is to slowly but gradually take Pakistan cricket to new heights. We will also work on domestic structure and pay heed to areas, where there is lot of room for improvement. Pakistan cricket team is highly talented and the country is blessed with immense amount of natural raw talent. We will provide opportunities to the youth and it will help Pakistan cricket in the years to come,” he added.

About having meeting and suggestions from media especially from twin cities’, Sethi promised to visit Rawalpindi and Islamabad soon and meet the sports journalists. “I promise to address genuine concerns of twin cities’ sports journalists, when I will he meet them during my visit to the Rawalpindi and Islamabad.”