An MCC team, captained by Kumar Sangakkara, will play a series of matches in Lahore next year, as the prospect of a more regular return of top-level cricket to Pakistan gathers pace.
Pakistan are currently taking on Sri Lanka in their first home Test series since March 2009, when the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked outside the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore. The opening match of their two-Test series, at Rawalpindi, was drawn with the second Test beginning in Karachi on Thursday.
The MCC World Cricket Committee has been at the forefront of efforts to take international cricket back to Pakistan, and that support was reaffirmed during their committee meeting at Lord’s in August – with security analysis being a prerequisite – following a presentation and discussion with Wasim Khan, the chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
“It is hugely important to support cricket in countries such as Pakistan,” said Sangakkara, MCC’s president, “and the PCB has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the international cricketing landscape since the tragic events of 2009.
“I am excited to be captaining MCC on the tour to Pakistan. With international cricket having returned for the first time in a decade, it is wonderful the Club is doing its part to strengthen cricket in Pakistan and I look forward to being part of the trip.”
All of MCC’s matches on the tour will be played at Aitcheson College in Lahore. Guy Lavender, the club’s chief executive and secretary, will be the team manager of the squad, and MCC Head Coach Ajmal Shahzad will coach the group.
“The people of Pakistan have been starved of seeing their team play at home for a decade and it is wonderful to see that Test cricket has recently returned to the country,” said Lavender.
“As a club, one of MCC’s priorities is to maintain its global relevance on the game by supporting countries in their provision for cricket, and we are united with the global game in wanting to see international teams returning to play in Pakistan.
“Of course the predominant focus has been assessing the relative safety and security considerations, and we are working closely with the PCB to manage a robust security plan to ensure the tour can take place.”
Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of the PCB, said: “Following months of dialogue, and the opportunity to put Pakistan’s compelling case forward to the prestigious and important MCC World Cricket committee, I am delighted that MCC has confirmed that it will send a touring team to Lahore in February.
“The decision by the world’s oldest and most influential cricket club to send a quality team is further testament that Pakistan is as safe and secure a country as any other cricket-playing nation in the world, and MCC’s tour is a further step forward in normalising team tours to Pakistan.
“The PCB looks forward to welcoming the MCC cricket team and we fully expect the squad to have a thoroughly enjoyable time.”