In a historic moment for Pakistan cricket, England cricket team has landed on their soil for the first time in 17 years today.
England who last toured Pakistan in 2005 have skipped traveling to the country due to security reasons. England were due to play last season in Pakistan but cancelled it at the last moment due to security reasons following the pull-out of New Zealand.
International cricket in Pakistan came to a halt in 2009 after a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan squad outside Gaddafi Stadium by 12 gunmen which injured players including their captain Mahela Jayawardene, vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara, Tharanga Paranavitana, Ajantha Mendis, Chaminda Vaas, and Suranga Lakmal. Samaraweera and Paranavitana were grievously injured and had to be hospitalised. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were also killed during the shootout.
Since the incident international teams stopped visiting Pakistan for bilateral series and they hosted other teams in neutral venues such as Dubai.
International cricket gradually started returning to Pakistan with PCB successfully hosting PSL in Pakistan as well Australia touring the country earlier this year. Former England captain and ace commentator David Gower is delighted that the tour is finally happening and cricket is slowly returning to Pakistan. He is expecting to see a great contest on the field and feels the series will be an ideal preparation for England ahead of the T20 World Cup.
“Well the series has been long overdue and I’m glad that it is happening now. England were to travel last year but could not but better late than never. I am sure that it will be a fiercely contested series,” Gower said in an exclusive chat with The Daily Guardian.
“If I have to say something from England’s point of view then there are two things; one is that they are fulfilling their obligation towards Pakistan and second that the series will allow England to get back to form ahead of the T20World Cup. England have not been going through a great run and this is a great opportunity for them. Pakistan are a quality side and they will not let England have it easy in the series which I think will bring the best out of our guys,” he added.
Talking about how this series will open the gates for international cricket in Pakistan, he said, “Well I think after Australia and England’s visit to Pakistan, this should convince other countries to tour Pakistan. I am very sure they will be welcomed very well by Pakistani fans just like any other country in the sub-continent.”
The mood is euphoric in Pakistan and renowned Pakistani journalist Rizwan Ahmed Ghilzai in an exclusive chat with The Daily Guardian spoke about the importance of the tour and elaborate security arrangements that PCB and the authorities have planned for the tour. Talking about the security arrangements, he said, “The security arrangement is fool proof and just like how Australia were given security similar to the Head of State, England will also be provided with the same. There will be elaborate security arrangements for England where they will be protected by the police, rangers, constabulary and Pakistan Army,” he added.
“There will be helicopters monitoring everything from top and the roads from hotel to stadium will be all sealed and manned by armed security personnel. The officials from ECB had come to check the security arrangements and they were very satisfied with it,” he further said.