Incoming PCB director confident of convincing Australia to visit Pakistan
Pakistani fans thank West Indies for coming to the country for a T20I series. © AFP

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is hopeful that Australia will tour Pakistan for the first time in over two decades, with the incoming managing director Wasim Khan set to meet his counterparts to gauge their apprehensions and convince them of top-notch security and facilities.

As per the ICC’s current Future Tours Programme (FTP), Australia are due to play Pakistan in an ODI series in March in the UAE. In a report published on ESPNcricinfo, Khan said he was intent on persuading Australia to visit for some part of that series.

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“I will ask the question,” said Khan. “We will continue to offer them the highest level security and, if they have any concerns, we will act to meet them.”

Apart from five limited-overs games against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015, Pakistan had until 2017 not hosted top-level international cricket since militants attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight people and wounding seven players and staff.

Pakistani security personnel escort vehicles carrying the Pakistan and West Indies cricket teams in 2018
Pakistani security personnel escort vehicles carrying the Pakistan and West Indies cricket teams in 2018. ©AFP

In the second half of 2017, a World XI coached by Andy Flower and featuring Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Paul Collingwood and the Australian trio of current Test skipper Tim Paine, George Bailey and Ben Cutting travelled to Pakistan  for a three-match T20I series. This was followed by a visit from a depleted Sri Lankan team, and earlier this year West Indies played three T20Is in Karachi.

The PCB also hosted three Pakistan Super League matches in Lahore and Karachi earlier this year, which featured a few international cricketers.

Citing these visits from international teams, Khan was hopeful of convincing other cricket boards to agree to travel to Pakistan.

“It will probably be a process of baby steps,” Khan said. “I need to sit down with other boards and ask them: where are the gaps in our plans that worry you? What can we do to assure you? What will it take to get you to come back? I want to hear what concerns they have and find a way of meeting them.

“We have excellent facilities. We have a great passion for the game. If we can get more foreign players coming to Pakistan more often, hopefully we can normalise playing in the country again.”

Earlier this year, New Zealand Cricket declined an offer from the PCB to tour Pakistan. Sri Lanka had agreed to return in 2011, but an attack on a Karachi naval base derailed that hope. The PCB then convinced Ireland to tour in 2014, only to have the trip cancelled after militants attacked the Karachi airport. Bangladesh also declined tours not once but twice out of unspecified security concerns, after initially agreeing in 2012.