Lahore: Veteran Pakistan batsman Shahid Afridi said on Friday that the country’s cricket board should stop pushing for hosting a series against India if the neighbouring nation is not interested.
Pakistan were scheduled to host the Indian team in December, but political tension triggered by persistent violence on the border has put the series under a cloud.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has indicated that chances of the series going ahead are bleak, with secretary Anurag Thakur stating on social networking platform Twitter that sporting ties with Pakistan should be cut off if they continue to shelter wanted gangster Dawood Ibrahim.
Both countries’ cricket boards have signed an agreement to play at least six times between 2015 and 2023, but the BCCI needs approval from the Indian government to revive cricketing ties with Pakistan.
Afridi — who admitted that a Indo-Pak series would be bigger than the Ashes — insisted that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should not be too peturbed if the Indian team is unwilling to visit the country and should instead focus on perusading other nations to tour.
“I don’t know why we are pushing for India series. There are other teams as well, so we should be focusing on reviving our own home grounds. We have to work on the basic things and making them strong. Why insist on playing with India?,” Afridi told reporters here on Friday.
“I don’t see any need to play if they don’t want to play. We have invited them and if they do not want to play, then it shouldn’t be a worry. We are still happy,” he added.
“Pakistan has always welcomed India, last time when India toured Pakistan nobody has seen such a welcome to any team in the world. We have always supported India in tough times but it’s their government decision. But I understand people from both countries want to see their teams play each other. If we play each other, it would be a bigger series than the Ashes.”
Afridi also asserted that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) should be held within the country, with or without overseas players. The PCB had announced recently that the inaugural edition of the league would be held in Doha, Qatar, in February next year.
The five-team PSL was intended to become Pakistan’s premier professional cricket tournament, replacing the Super-8 T20 Cup. But the tournament was hampered by the unwillingness of foreign players to visit Pakistan.
The inaugural season was originally supposed begin on March 26, 2013, but has since been postponed due to tight bidding schedules and cricket boards not handing out no-objection certificates to players.
“It would be great if PSL could have been held in Pakistan. As we were talking about the revival of cricket in Pakistan after the Zimbabwe tour to Pakistan, we started to hope that cricket would continue to be played here,” Afridi said.
“Our cricket should be played within our own territory. It looks good if our grounds get revived, filled with crowds and our own players get the maximum benefit out of it.”