LAHORE (Reuters) - Misbah-ul-Haq has identified Twenty20 cricket as the means by which Pakistan can bring international competition back to the country.
Pakistan have not played a test match on home soil since 2009 because of ongoing security concerns, but Misbah, the test and one-day captain, said a new domestic T20 set-up could help attract overseas players and begin to change perceptions.
“I think through T20 cricket we can also end our forced drought of international cricket at home,” he told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.
”There is no doubt our cricket and players have suffered because of the refusal of teams to visit Pakistan due to security concerns.
“What we should do is organise our domestic T20 league over a period of three weeks and try to also see if we can invite some low-profile foreign players that will help the (Pakistan Cricket) Board portray a soft image of Pakistan and break the ice for teams to come and play in the country.”
Four years ago armed militants attacked Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore, killing eight Pakistanis and wounding six Sri Lankan players. Since then foreign teams have refused to travel to Pakistan due to security concerns, leaving Pakistan to play “home” matches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and England.
Now Misbah is calling for a revamped T20 structure in the country to spark their return to the international fold.
“I would like to see one proper T20 league championship like it is held in other countries, with teams playing on home and away basis,” he said.
”Presently the duration of the tournaments is too short and cannot help produce or groom players.
“The short duration of these T20 events also does not allow them to leave an impact on domestic cricket or on other cricket playing nations.”
The PCB organises two T20 events in the domestic calendar, a national championship featuring all 14 regional teams and a “super eight” tournament contested by the top eight teams of the national championship.
The duration of the two T20 events is at the most six to seven days, although these tournaments draw the biggest crowds on the domestic circuit.
The super eights tournament in Lahore has already drawn full houses, with the semi-finals contested on Saturday.
Misbah said when he had spoken to overseas players they had been keen to play in the planned Pakistan Super League T20, which was supposed to begin this week but was postponed in February because of reported logistical problems and further security concerns from international bodies.
“Hopefully the PSL will be held soon, but why not start by inviting a few players for our domestic T20 event?” Misbah said.
“If we have a proper T20 league it will also raise the profile of domestic cricket in Pakistan.”
Editing by Stephen Wood and Pritha Sarkar