ISLAMABAD: The chair of Pakistan's cricket regulatory authority has credited the country's military as well as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for helping bring a turnaround in the national cricket team's fortunes.
Speaking to Geo.tv, Najam Sethi — the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) — said he told British Prime Minister Theresa May that the Pakistan Army had done a great job by ending the menace of terrorism from the country and made huge sacrifices for national security and peace.
Sethi met May recently at Lord’s during the first Test between England and Pakistan.
“I told [her] that Pakistan awaits a visit by the England team [and that] we need your help … I reminded the British PM that Pakistan Army had done a great job in ending terrorism and made big sacrifices.
"As a result, the conditions at our home are better; hence, we are inviting foreigners to come and visit us. We have made Pakistan safe.”
The PCB chair said the cricket authority was in a disarray prior to his appointment by Nawaz, who asked him to bring order and implement essential reforms.
“After Nawaz Sharif asked me to look after the PCB, he never interfered in my business. [Nawaz] mandated me to put the PCB in order and bring cricket to Pakistan and that was a national agenda.
"This wasn’t his personal agenda, there was no reward or no politics involved. He thought that someone with managerial experience was needed in the PCB and we worked hard to achieve our objectives," Sethi said.
He lauded Pakistan’s victory at Lord’s which left the English team stunned, saying the English commentators had agreed that the current Pakistani team is “professional, good-natured, and has a proper camaraderie".
"They were not expecting Pakistan to be so good. They were overconfident and that’s what made them bat first after winning the toss.”
Sethi said Pakistan’s current line-up comprises young players who made their way up into the team purely on merit.
“They are playing as a tight unit. The main factor is there is no favouritism in the PCB anymore. Our coaches don’t accept references and favouritism, we are working as per our plans.
"The PSL [Pakistan Super League] has given an opportunity to young players to mix and socialize with international players … That helps in ending the fear.”
Sethi said he hopes that England will tour Pakistan in the near future. He said that Pakistan has matches coming up with England, New Zealand and Australia and it would like these countries to play at least some matches in Pakistan.