LAHORE - Pakistan cricket team coach Dav Whatmore expressed his disappointment over the Bangladesh team’s decision to defer its tour to Pakistan over security concerns, said that he did not have any problems in terms of security for the two months that he had spent here.

"Like everyone else in Pakistan, I am also disappointed (with the postponement of the series)," Whatmore said. "We were close to choosing the team but now Bangladesh is not coming everything is finished which is a bit disappointing." Bangladesh were due to start a short tour of Pakistan next week but their visit was postponed after the High Court in Dhaka ordered it be delayed for a month because of security concerns.

Whatmore, 57, played seven Tests for Australia and as coach guided Sri Lanka to their famous victory in the 1996 World Cup. "From my personal view, having (been) born in Sri Lanka and lived through the civil war there, and now staying in Lahore I have faced no security problems," he said. He also coached Bangladesh to the Super Six Stages of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. "I have not seen very many areas in Lahore and if I know some other areas I would like to go there, but I have faced no problems here," he said.

Under Whatmore, Pakistan last month won the Asia Cup, also involving world champions India. "It is very difficult for a nation so rich of cricket history to keep the game going without being able to host international teams," said Whatmore of Pakistan, who have been forced to play their "home" series on neutral venues, mostly in United Arab Emirates, since the Lahore attack. Whatmore said he was happy to endorse the Pakistan Premier League (PPL) and hoped it will attract international players. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is planning to launch the PPL in October and wants to use the Twenty20 competition to show the world that the country is safe for cricket. Several companies — including one from India — have shown interest in the project.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of international cricketers looking to their schedules and see they are available in this short period of time to come and play here," Whatmore said. "I am very hopeful that there will be some very good international cricketers coming and enjoying playing in the Pakistan Premier League." The PCB has succeeded in convincing only the Afghan national team to compete in Pakistan when it played three one-day internationals against a second-string Pakistan team last year. While Test-playing countries remain unsure of the security situation in Pakistan, the PCB added Australian Whatmore and Englisman Julian Fountain to its coaching staff soon after the series against England ended in the UAE in February. The UAE has served as a second home for Pakistan, who plays their home matches in the Gulf country. Whatmore said there are no security problems for him in Lahore where he has been staying at the National Cricket Academy — close to the site where the Sri Lanka team came under attack. "I am now staying in Lahore for the last two months and I move around quite freely," Whatmore said. "I really don't have any problems with security and if I knew more areas in Lahore I would be visiting more places."

Pakistan hosted a domestic Twenty20 in Rawalpindi this month and Whatmore was impressed with the presence of large crowds watching national team players. A team comprising players from British universities also visited Lahore this month and played one-dayers against the national under-19 team with hundreds of people in attendance at the Gaddafi Stadium.  "People in this country are starved for cricket," Whatmore said. "A lot of people have said and I've read 'it must be difficult for Pakistan, it must be really hard for the people here,' but do they really know how hard it is? You need to come and witness it, to really know how difficult it is for a nation that has a rich history in international cricket to keep the game going without having the ability to host overseas teams."

Pakistan's next international matches will take place in Sri Lanka, where they will play a Test and ODI series starting in June. The PCB is also planning to host Australia in Sri Lanka for Twenty20 and ODI matches to get more used to the conditions ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup — also in Sri Lanka in September. He said that by the end of the first week of May, a selection committee will be looking at certain players and will make a final selection for the next engagement by the end of May. “Boys who are based in Lahore are still working pretty hard with me which am a good thing, it’s not a competition phase yet but they are working pretty well.”

Meanwhile, Intikhab Alam talking exclusive to this scribe maintained that the national selection committee has decided to hold a trial for six days to select 75 under-19 players. The selection process will start on April, 27. “The process will be done in three phases. The idea is to show Whatmore and Fountain the talent we have and also because we have to announce 30 players for the under-19 World Cup, which will be played in Malaysia.” Alam said that on the request of Whatmore, PCB was inviting 11 fast bowlers and that he will be looking after them. He also said that the board wanted to enhance the bench strength.