For the first time since 2005, England will return to Pakistan in 2021, and the Pakistan Cricket Board’s executive director, born in Birmingham, has been at the forefront of negotiations.
Wasim Khan is predicting two fantastic years for Pakistan, among the highlights of a leap towards a full international cricket program in the country with the return of an England team for the first time in 16 years. He spearheaded talks between the PCB and the England and Wales Cricket Board as Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board to ensure England’s first visit since 2005.
In 2021 and 2022, after spending more than a decade in the wilderness following the 2009 attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore, Pakistan will host other major tours alongside England in an attempt to bring something like normalcy to this cricket-loving country. We work very closely with the ECB, we have a strong trust-based partnership, and the will to find a way to come in 2021 has always been there,” he says. “We initially discussed the January window, but it just didn’t work out logistically.
But behind the scenes, we’ve been working hard to find a tiny opening that could make it possible. For the nation, it’s a wonderful feeling, the country has been waiting for this for a long time. We have two big years ahead of us, with South Africa coming in January. For five T20s and three ODIs, we will host New Zealand in October. Then we have England for two T20 tournaments, then we host the West Indies. After that, in 2022, we host Australia and England, both full tours, so there’s a lot of work. Pakistan has played its home games in the UAE since the 2009 attack. The return of international cricket in Pakistan – which started with the limited-over tour of Zimbabwe in 2015 and saw the resumption of test matches with the Sri Lanka tour in 2019 – has been supported by the PCB’s tireless work, with government funding playing a role at all levels. We’ve put a lot of things in order, but we’re never going to get complacent. In Pakistan, security is as good as it can be anywhere.
I think it was Shane Watson who said that ‘Pakistan is one of the best places in the world to play cricket’ after the last PSL [Pakistan Super League]. That is because of how the whole situation has changed.
We are as stable as anywhere, and we will continue to do whatever we can to convince nations when they come, provide them with state-level security, and continue to work with the government, local governments, police, and the military to make all the arrangements so that they can have some level of trust in the things they are looking for.
For almost a year, many of Pakistan’s players have been in one form or another of the biologically safe bubble, and while Khan admits that covid and cricket will have to co-exist for a while, the PCB is aware of the mental health issues of the players, “We need to make sure we support them. Whether or not we rotate players in the next six months is something that cricket management will have to c”
“But we really need to begin to show the level of support and do that because for a while now, our guys have been in these biologically safe bubbles. “It’s something we have to prepare very carefully. People were, of course, suspicious about someone coming here from another nation and asking them how to run their cricket. In 2018, the 49-year-old Khan, a former Leicestershire CEO and Warwickshire batsman – who became the first Briton of Pakistani descent to win a professional contract in 1990 – was hired on a three-year contract by the PCB. In some quarters, the appointment was met with opposition as Khan is not a product of the Pakistan system.
“Khan, born in Birmingham, who has polished his Urdu abilities, admits that the reaction was a shock: “I was not prepared for that.