Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani on Monday said that the recent staging of eight Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Karachi is a sign that “PCB’s credibility has hit a new level” and the board is now “taken seriously at an international level”.
The PCB head made the remarks during a press conference in Lahore a day after the Quetta Gladiators trounced Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL 2019 final held at National Stadium Karachi.
“The biggest endorsement was that 39 to 40 foreign players came to Pakistan,” said Mani. “Add support staff to it and the number reaches 150 people. Our credibility — and ICC CEO David Richardson also [corroborated] this — in the international world has reached a new level. Now when we say something, we are taken seriously and believed.”
“The most impressive bit was how the Karachi crowd supported us. Some 200,000 came to watch these matches, and from what I believe, 150 million saw the matches on TV.
“This was a remarkable endorsement of PSL. Due to the geo-political situation, it was important that we demonstrated that Pakistan is capable of holding such an event.
“There was a suggestion that we should hold only five matches in Karachi but I rejected it. Our commitment was to hold all matches in Pakistan. And the credit goes to the local administration for mobilising their resources on just a few days’ notice. Everyone supported us and no one said that this would be too much as this was a matter of national pride.”
Mani said that the incident in New Zealand proves that terrorism is not just a Pakistani problem but a global menace. He also offered to share PCB’s expertise on the subject.
“We had a dilemma due to the unfortunate New Zealand incident,” he said. “People forget that we are also the victims of terrorism. Now the world knows what challenges are there. Pakistan’s problems are not different to anyone else’s.
“It doesn’t mean we should gloat. We will work with them and share our experiences but cricket should not stop. If cricket stops due to terrorism then it’s a victory for the terrorists. Players’ safety is of course important and cannot be risked but the game must go on too.”
“What we did was invite some security experts of other countries so they can themselves see how we organise PSL. Unfortunately, the New Zealand incident happened but it also gave them an incentive to observe how we, as victims of terrorism, are handling this.”
The PCB chairman said that the opening ceremony of the final was “toned down” keeping in mind the New Zealand incident. “We acknowledged the incident, observed a minute’s silence, released pigeons and cut out dancing. All the songs too were iconic Pakistani songs.”
Mani also appreciated Islamabad United’s gesture of keeping the spirit of cricket alive. “In this sport, the spirit of cricket is of prime importance,” he said. “One demonstration of this was done by Islamabad United. The Spirit of Cricket trophy they received, they dedicated it to Asif Ali, whose daughter is battling cancer.”
PHOTO: FILE …