Sri Lankan cricket legend and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) President Kumar Sangakkara led 12-member MCC squad arrived in Lahore on Thursday (February 13) to play a limited-overs series in order to support the international cricket in Pakistan.
Addressing a press conference after having a training session at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, the MCC captain Sangakkara on Thursday said the security is a major concern everywhere in the world while expressing hopes that the MCC’s tour of Pakistan will encourage “countries to look at Pakistan as one of the best cricketing destinations.”
Well, former Sri Lankan captain believes in actions more than words, saying he is happy to do his share in ensuring Pakistan is back on the cricketing map and he is confident that it will be very soon.
Sangakkara said in Lahore, “Cricket belongs to everyone, but for the players to have that platform and display their skills you need to have that support. The fact is that you need to have an underpinning of youth who can be inspired to take up the game.”
He continued, “So if there is no home cricket for a very long period of time, there is a danger that sometime that kind of hunger might go away. The more cricket that you play here at home, the more times young children and the fabulous fans of Pakistan can see their side, their players play in front of them, within almost touching distance.”
Explaining the importance of touring more nations to Pakistan, Sangakkara said: “Rather than a direct message by saying something to them, the best thing that we can do is send that message by the way we play in the field. The more times the international sides tour that message becomes stronger and becomes harder to ignore. I think that is wonderful for the game, it is wonderful for the country and it's great for the global game.”
He further said, “We should not lose sight of how important the strength of Pakistan is in that big picture of having global cricket in a very, very healthy and strong state. The MCC tour is a part of completing that puzzle, and I think this is a great step by everyone to combine and to be here to again try and encourage sides to come back and play cricket in Pakistan.”
On security issues, the legendary batsman said: “The MCC’s world cricket committee ... has been one of the strong advocates of cricket coming back (to Pakistan). Security is always a major concern everywhere in the world. In Pakistan, I think, the steps that have been taken over the past few years have instilled great amounts of confidence in the cricketing nations beyond the shores of Pakistan, and slowly but surely that confidence is building up.”
Sangakkara signed off by saying, “On behalf of the MCC and for me personally, we're thrilled to be here. Sri Lanka was one of the first teams to come back and play Test cricket here. And as a fellow Sri Lankan and also as the president of the MCC and a part of this tour, I'm so happy that we're able to do our part to try and encourage countries to look at Pakistan as one of the best cricketing destinations. It has been that in the past, and I'm sure it will be that again very soon.”
(With DAWN Inputs)