LAHORE: Former Sri Lankan captain and MCC President Kumar Sangakkara praised the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the Government of Pakistan, its security officials and cricket fans for giving their full support and cooperation during very successful PKS tour went to Pakistan last February and said the world of cricket needed to see Pakistan’s cricket returning to its competitive way.
“When I landed in Lahore, I didn’t feel afraid or worried. The security arrangements are very well managed, we feel very safe and very safe, “said the legendary Sri Lankan batsman when speaking with former Pakistani captain Ramiz Raja in a recent interview.
“Yes, we travel by bomb-resistant bus and witness many areas in the city closed to ensure our safe road to the hotel or to the stadium, but that is a requirement for security and I must say everything is very well managed and organized,” added Sangakkara who led the MCC side on a short visit.
“It felt like home to me when I reached Gaddafi Stadium for the first match, especially for me,” he said. “I feel very happy and proud, I want to thank Pakistani cricket fans, PCBs, and everyone for our great hospitality and tour.
The legendary Batsman of Sri Lanka has an exclusive chat with Ramiz Raja
“Therefore, the MCC tour to Pakistan is the first step among many that must be taken to restore top-level crickets in this country,” Sangakkara said. “I feel that all bookings will be lost when Australia or the UK visit Pakistan. That will be a litmus test. Maybe 3 or 5 test matches will not be possible immediately, but why not two or three ODI or why not start with 4 T20I to start this process because we really need a strong Pakistani team that will reappear when the top teams will start playing in this country once again. “
Sangakkara said it was very difficult to predict when cricket could return internationally. “This is a strange time, it is very difficult to say and imagine cricket returning in the coming months in the same way and form. That’s not feasible and realistic. “It takes a long time to see cricket happening in a full stadium, for people to feel confident enough to gather together to support a beautiful cricket game or other game or even a social gathering,” Sangakkara said.
Speaking about the survival of the Test cricket, he said: “To protect the Test cricket we need not only to attract players but also fans to appreciate what they want to see in the Cricket Test. Day and night tests are touted as a solution and we are seeing a rising crowd. Also, the World Test Championship is a good step but the whole championship is not promoted centrally by the ICC. The only aspect of the World Test Championship promoted by the ICC is final.
“We also don’t build the profile of the Test Championship and the players involved. Also, the great Test cricket is not projected as a ‘hero’ and is not marketed to the masses and young people as role models who can promote the cricket Test. “
Commenting on the threat of match fixing, Sangakkara said he was not sure whether the game would be successfully eliminated. “I’m not sure if we will ever be able to fix cricket, because to get rid of it you really need so many different things to get into place and one of the most important things is the ability of the players to say ‘no’,” he said.
“Also awareness is the key for players of different age groups in cricket and in the dressing room. Education about this from a young age is very important. Also freedom of opinion and open honest communication between seniors and young players to discuss this issue and mutual respect and the level of trust in the dressing room will help protect players from this threat, “he said.
Sangakkara, however, praised the head of the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit for making drastic changes to check corruption in cricket. “Years ago the system existed to capture players rather than empowering them to make the right decisions. But now under Alex Marshal, head of the ICC ACU, everything has changed drastically. He is very open with players and encourages his team to go to the players and make sure the players understand that trust is a two-way street and if they trust ACU and feel safe and secure about talking to them.
“In addition, the financial problems of the players are key here. Research in the UK shows that most of the players who are approached to improve are in the early phases of their careers or when they are almost retired, “he added. “It’s important to have a long-term contract and payment parity in international cricket, so players feel financially secure and they don’t need to say ‘yes’ when approached by corrupt elements.
“Players will still do it and will be punished and sanctioned. But hopefully together we can deprive this issue of cricket because it is something that can destroy this game and continue to influence public confidence. “
During the interview Sangakkara also mentioned his favorite batsmen and bowlers.
“Well, the first name as a lefty that comes to my mind must be Brian Lara. I still remember how he dominated Muralitharan in the Test series in Sri Lanka. Certainly Sir Viv Richards and Aravinda De Silva are great players.
“Among the bowlers who play with me, I will judge my team mates Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath because they are the absolute great players in the game, as well as Lasith Malinga in various game formats,” said top scorer 11 double hundreds.
“Internationally, I will name Wasim Akram first. I don’t face him much but it’s scary every time I do it. Not because of his speed but also the best skills he has.
“But I rate Mohammad Asif as one of the best fast bowlers with new balls I have ever played. For him, it doesn’t matter if there is grass on the field or that the goalpost is dead flat, he can make the ball talk on every surface. “Shane Warne is also a very smart bowler,” concluded the former SL captain.
Published in Dawn, May 13, 2020
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