Lahore: Newly-appointed PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf is confident that international cricket will return to Pakistan next year, and hopes that neighbours India too will visit the strife-torn country sooner rather than later.
Ashraf said he was hopeful that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will break the ice and tour Pakistan next year, even as he admitted that Pakistan cricket has been badly hurt by foreign teams' refusal to tour the country due to security issues.
"I am looking forward to seeing the revival of international cricket in Pakistan in 2012," he said. "India till recently had reservations about touring Pakistan due to the conditions. But I would like to see the Indians respond in a positive manner to our offer. We would also like to see the Indians in Pakistan at some stage," Ashraf told Jang newspaper.
Ashraf will be visiting India and Bangladesh next month on the invitations of the respective boards of two countries to discuss bilateral cricket ties and future tours.
"Bringing back international cricket to Pakistan remains one of my main priorities. It is good that our team is presently doing well and producing positive results, but it is equally important that they play at home in front of their people and supporters," he said.
He also dispelled the impression that PCB was trying to strike a deal with the Bangladesh Cricket Board over the issue of nominating a joint candidate for the ICC vice-president's post.
"If we are allowing Bangladesh to nominate their candidate, it is because they deserve this right since in 2003 they supported our candidate, Ehsan Mani, for the key ICC position. There is no deal involved in this," Ashraf said.
He said in order to convince foreign teams to visit Pakistan, the PCB will soon set up a vigilance cell that would monitor security issues and also matters related to corruption and fixing.
"We are willing to work very closely with the ICC on security matters to satisfy them. We are willing to assure foolproof security for visiting teams," he added.
No Test-playing nation has visited Pakistan since 2009 after a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in which six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed.