British Universities team to tour Pakistan in April

Karachi: At a time when the entire Pakistan cricket community has expressed shock at the statement of the Maryleborne Cricket Club (MCC) to tour Afghanistan instead of Pakistan, the combined British Universities team has confirmed that it will be touring Lahore next month.

"We don`t know in what context the MCC President Phillip Hodson gave this statement on playing in Afghanistan and not in Pakistan but we welcome this decision by the British Universities to play in Pakistan," a senior board official said on Thursday.

The official said that the British Universities team led by Kamal Alam of Durham University will tour Lahore from April 2 to 8 and will be the guests of the PCB.

"They will play two one-day matches at the Gaddafi stadium on the 4th and 6th," he said.

"The visit by the British Universities team is definitely a significant development for us as it allows us the chance to host a foreign team and show the world that it is possible to play international cricket in Pakistan," the official said.

The foreign teams stopped visiting Pakistan after militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009, killing six Pakistani policemen and a van driver and also injuring five of the visiting players.

Since then, only the Afghanistan team toured the strife-torn nation and played against the `A` side last winter.

The board official said the British Universities team would be well taken care of and provided the proper security.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif on Thursday expressed his shock and disappointment at the MCC President`s statement.

"I am shocked that he says MCC can play in Afghanistan rather than in Pakistan. In Afghanistan, they don`t even have their own grounds and their team practices in the UAE," said Latif, a former coach with the Afghanistan team.

"This is nothing but double standards. Tell me how can the PCB expect the MCC or ICC to be sincere about helping us revive international cricket in Pakistan," he said.

MCC president Phillip Hodson said on Wednesday that his club was more likely to tour Afghanistan, where NATO troops are fighting the Taliban, than Pakistan.

"I think we could do something in Afghanistan and I don`t think it will be long away," Hodson said.

Latif said conditions in Pakistan were much more conducive for cricket.

He also made it clear that if the MCC sends its team to Pakistan it will go a long way in showing support for Pakistan cricket and helping revive international cricket in the country.

Latif maintained that he is still confident of being able to bring a world eleven team to Pakistan if the PCB supports him financially to cover costs of the tour.

"It can be done. The Chairman of the Lashings cricket club has already said he is ready to bring an international eleven to Pakistan," he said.

Lashings owner David Folb confirmed it by saying "I would be delighted to take a team to Pakistan. Latif is a man who I have the utmost respect for and if he says it`s safe for us to travel then we`d be delighted," Folb said.


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