LAHORE - The recent tour of seven-country star-studded ICC World XI team to Pakistan has helped the country in restoring its image as a safe venue to host the elite cricket events. The visiting team players praised the security arrangements made during their comfortable stay at the country and they expressed their delight while being part of an important cricket event which broke the drought of international cricket after a gap of eight years.

Due to no international cricket in Pakistan after attack on Sri Lankan team in 2009, Pakistani cricketers and domestic cricket suffered a lot, yet it kept on prevailing under the dynamic leadership of PCB chairmen Shaharyar Khan and Najam Aziz Sethi, as it not only succeeded in becoming the No 1 Test team, which brought Test mace to the country, but also won the prestigious Champions Trophy, which further boosted their morale and earned a great respect and honour globally.

After the sad incident of attack on Sri Lankan cricket team bus in 2009 in Lahore, the PCB was reluctant to take some bold steps, which might help in restoring the positive image of Pakistan and its cricket, but no pragmatic steps were taken. The credit goes to brave man, Najam Sethi, who turned the idea of launching Pakistan Super League (PSL) into reality and despite having a huge pressure and criticism, he successfully hosted the PSL-2 final in Lahore, which proved “game changer” for bringing international cricket back to Pakistan and eventually convinced the ICC to send its team to Pakistan and play at the historic Gaddafi Stadium. Indeed, Sethi’s vision and perfect planning proved a major factor to break the drought of international cricket in Pakistan.

The ICC also fulfilled its promise of helping Pakistan in restoring international cricket, as the security teams visited the country time and again and thoroughly checked the security situation here, which they found much improved while the team was also paid by the ICC. ICC task force on Pakistan chairman Giles Clarke also reviewed the security here and after thorough investigation, he presented positive report, which encouraged the ICC to send its World XI team to Pakistan.

Credit also goes to former Zimbabwean cricketer Andy Flower, whose brother Grant Flower, a batting coach of Pakistan, built a great trust on Pakistan and he then gathered top players for World XI and brought them here to help resume international cricket for cricket-starved people of the country.

The presence of top stars in the ICC World XI team made the series a mega event while the ICC further made it distinguished by providing international umpires and officials and declaring it an ICC event, which would have an effect on the ICC T20 ranking.

The packed crowd exhibited exemplary conduct during the three-match series and proved the world that Pakistani nation is sports and peace loving. The jubilant crowd not only supported local team, but also cheered for the visitors, which was duly recognized by the guests, who declared them as the best audience they have witnessed throughout their careers.

Another interesting aspect witnessed during the series was that 10 young players of Pakistan got the unique opportunity to play first time at their home soil making the series youth vs experience, and everyone saw that youth prevailed over experience as the youthful home side beat the experienced World XI 2-1 to win the Independence Cup.

Pakistan has been investing heavily on security while scores of its soldiers have also sacrificed their lives for their homeland in order to bring peace in the country, so Pakistan armed forces equally shared the credit of resumption of international cricket in Pakistan. Federal and Punjab governments also played their significant role by fully supporting the PCB to ensure smooth and peaceful conduct of the World XI tour. Police also played their part fiercely and made the foolproof security possible for all.

With the successful tour of World XI, the ice has been broken and the entire world has seen the capability of Pakistan for arranging such a high-profile international tour. Not only ICC chief executive David Richardson and WICB president David Cameroon expressed their satisfaction on the security arrangements, but also the entire World XI team praised Pakistan and PCB for hosting them in a befitting manner.

Now the PCB is up to another challenging task of hosting the Sri Lankan team in the coming month. So it is a new beginning in Pakistan cricket and with the tour of Sri Lanka and West Indies, Pakistan will be well on path to have more international cricket taking place in the country in due course of time.