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LAHORE, Oct 16 (APP): Former Pakistan Cricket captain Wasim Akram said on Friday England’s consideration for a short tour to Pakistan was a major cricket breakthrough for the cricket-mad nation that will have long-term effects on the growth and development of local cricketers that, in turn, will improve international standing of the national sides across all formats.

“Knowing how the England and Wales Cricket Board operate, I know for sure they would not have made this decision overnight. The process started 12 months ago with Tom Harrison’s visit to Lahore during Sri Lanka matches and following regular interactions with the PCB and other relevant stakeholders, they finally acknowledged they were considering a short tour to Pakistan,” Wasim, who took 916 international wickets, told APP.

PCB chief executive Wasim Khan had earlier confirmed he had invited England and Wales Cricket Board for a three T20I series between January 13 and 20 in the lead up to the home series against South Africa. The ECB later confirmed the invite, saying they were committed in doing what they could to help this develop further.

“If this three T20I tour takes place next year in January, I am convinced this will be a massive step forward in helping Pakistan regain their lost glory.

The series will surely attract young cricketers and motivate them to pick up the bat and the ball, exactly like I and the players of my era fell in love with the game after watching greats of those times.

“I think the present PCB set-up has continued to live up to the expectations of the fans and cricket lovers with their clear vision and strategy, that it backed by their delivery. It is appropriate that we now all get behind the PCB as one nation, refrain from any further sarcastic comments and start appreciating the good work being done in the best interest of Pakistan cricket.”

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Former captain Rashid Latif echoed Wasim Akram’s comments, adding the ECB statement was PCB’s massive success on the cricket diplomacy front.

“England’s tour to Pakistan would be of a great significance and the PCB deserves a lot of credit since questions were being raised on Pakistan’s tour to England during the pandemic as it was termed useless by many,” the champion wicketkeeper said.

Wasim Khan was severely criticized for his decision to send the Pakistan squad to England for a scheduled FTP tour despite him maintaining that cricket and Covid needed to co-exist for a period time, and, therefore, it was critical that the PCB played its part in getting cricket being played again globally.

Pakistan subsequently lost the Test series 1-0, a series they should have won, and tied the T20Is 1-1, again a result that could have gone in the way of the green shirts.
“At times backdoor diplomacy works and one had an idea that tour was indeed not useless. This is a good step, both by the ECB and the PCB.

“England has always been the most significant force in cricket carrying a lot of weight and credibility. A tour by England, soon followed by a tour by South Africa, will mean a lot and will surely see the start of tours by countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the West Indies.

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“England’s tour will be a major boost to our cricket. Even if something God forbidden happens in the future, we should abstain from playing at neutral venues. We need to learn from the mistakes we made in the past and try to play at our home venues only even if there is a delay,” the former captain who led Pakistan in six Tests and 25 ODIs.
Flamboyant Shahid Afridi, who featured in the 2005 Faisalabad Test against England scoring 92 and 0 while also taking four wickets, was delighted with news and congratulated the PCB for their efforts.

“This is a great development, Pakistan is as safe and secure a country as any in the world and we have seen in the last one year the regular tours of international teams and, of course, world’s leading players in the Pakistan Super League 2020.

“All of them thoroughly enjoyed their tour and I am sure England cricketers will again have a great time and will enjoy the traditional Pakistan hospitality. I am positive that the England and Wales Cricket Board will accept the PCB’s invitation.

“At the same time, I want to congratulate the PCB on this development. We have seen great progress in terms of cricket returning to Pakistan under this set-up and this will be another significant series even, if it is for now only a T20 series.”