Lahore: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has ruffled feathers in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and in government circles by suggesting that the PCB should avoid inviting foreign teams to the country because of the security situation here.
Former speedster, who regularly used to clash with the establishment during his playing days, told reporters in Rawalpindi that condition in Pakistan was not conducive for inviting foreign teams to play international cricket.
"Our citizens are not safe and there is a war going on in the country. Therefore, inviting a team in these conditions will be risky," he said. "What if a visiting team is attacked again? So I would advise the PCB not to invite foreign teams since the country is not in a position to stage any international event," he added.
Reacting to his statement, a board official said Shoaib needed to understand the sensitivities of some issues. "Everyone knows what the ground realities are in Pakistan at the moment but some things don't need to be stated publicly. But since he is a retired player, he has the right to air his opinions, although those views might not help Pakistan cricket," the official said.
No Test-playing nation has visited Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009, and the PCB has been forced to organise its "home" series abroad at neutral venues, with most of these being played in the United Arab Emirates in the last three years.
PCB is set to host Australia for a series in August in the UAE yet again. However, since Zaka Ashraf took over as chairman of the PCB last year in October, he has been trying to not only convince teams to play in Pakistan but has recently also managed to resume bilateral ties with India.
In April Pakistan had invited Bangladesh to play a short series of two matches to signal the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan but the tour didn't materialise at the last moment due to a court injunction in Dhaka.
The PCB, meanwhile, is also not happy with Shoaib stating that he didn't see 70-year-old people in the board capable of organising the Pakistan Premier League (PPL). "Seventy-year-old people can't organise the PPL. The PCB should hire services of foreign consultants instead of old people for hosting a successful event if it really wants to organise the PPL," the former fast bowler had said.
The board official said that the PCB was already in the process of appointing an independent commissioner for the PPL, for which advertisement was placed for people to apply. "We have even got some foreign companies to show interest in the PPL and make presentations. So apparently Shoaib is not aware of what is happening," he said.
Shoaib himself is interested and ready to play in the PPL when it is launched and wants his name to be included in the players' list.