ISLAMABAD             -            Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif has requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to make national cricket team’s future tours as part of foreign policy, which is the only solution to ensure international teams fulfill their commitments regarding touring Pakistan.

In an interview with The Nation, Latif said: “There is absolutely no doubt that Pakistan cricket had suffered badly in the absence of international cricket in Pakistan for last decade or so, as Pakistan cricket has gone at least 10 years back. If we compare it with other top cricket-playing nations, the reason is very simple that in last 10 years, our players failed to play a single Test match in Pakistan.

“The arrival of Sri Lankan team after more than a decade was a sigh of relief for not only struggling Pakistani cricket but also for long-suffering masses. Majority of our cricket grounds have also suffered badly in the absence of international matches,” he added.

He said: “It is quiet unfortunate that Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) looks hesitant in sending their national team to fulfill their commitment of playing Test matches and other international matches in Pakistan as per ICC Test Championship FTP plan. They must not be reluctant to play Test matches here especially after a successful tour of Sri Lankan team, which played two Tests in Pakistan – one in Rawalpindi and second in Karachi.

“Sri Lankan players, their sports journalists, international media, ICC representatives and international commentators were highly satisfied and took sweet memories of Pakistan tour back with them. It is right time when Prime Minister Imran must act and make cricket diplomacy part of the country’s foreign policy as unless he takes this initiative, Pakistan cricket is bound to suffer, as the teams will back off from their promises and won’t tour Pakistan,” he added.

Latif said PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani needs to use his vast experience and relations with other boards to convince not only the ICC but also BCCI and other boards to send their teams to Pakistan. “In 2004, when the BCCI was reluctant to tour Pakistan, it was Ganguly (now the BCCI President), who persuaded the BCCI and players and it was highly memorable Indian team tour to Pakistan, which managed to win big here after a long gap.

“As a cricketer and BCCI President, Ganguly can help Mani and the PCB. Unless full-fledged Pakistan-India bilateral series resumes, the things won’t improve for both countries and especially world wants to see Pak-India playing cricket. PCB CEO Wasim Khan should also play his active part to ensure top cricket-playing nations come and tour Pakistan as it will help Pakistan cricket and local players,” he asserted.

The former captain said he thinks Pakistan team played well against Sri Lanka, but he is surprised with the omission of Fawad Alam, who has been performing exceptionally in domestic cricket for the last five years and after giving his best in the recently-concluded first class season, he was finally recalled in the national team. “Fawad’s non-selection leaves a huge question mark on Misbah’s selection as if first class performers can’t get chance to represent the country after such great performances, then what is the purpose of playing first class.

“It was Fawad’s right to play if not in the first Test, then he should have been in the second Test in Karachi as he could have resolved middle order issues. Pakistan team was playing cricket in UAE for last decade, now they have to adjust to home conditions and it is only possible, if international teams continue to come and play in Pakistan,” Latif concluded.