It has been confirmed today that Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will be sending a touring squad to Pakistan in 2020.
Captained by current MCC President Kumar Sangakkara, the Club will send a team to Lahore in February next year, playing a number of matches in the city.
The concept of a tour to Pakistan has been a long-stated aim of the MCC World Cricket committee, with its Members having expressed an interest in helping Pakistan during the country’s exile from hosting international cricket.
Following an attack on the touring Sri Lanka team’s bus in Lahore in 2009, Pakistan’s home Test matches have been played on neutral territory, until very recently, as a two-Test series between the sides – part of the World Test Championship – began last week.
At the MCC World Cricket committee meeting held at Lord’s in August, the WCC re-affirmed their support in seeing touring sides return to Pakistan – with security analysis being a prerequisite – following a presentation and discussion with Wasim Khan, the Chief Executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
It was agreed that MCC would consider touring Pakistan in the future and following a full investigation into security measures, and assessment into the viability of the trip, the Club can confirm they have accepted an invitation from the PCB to tour in February.
Guy Lavender, MCC Chief Executive & Secretary said: “The people of Pakistan have been starved of seeing their team play at home for a decade and it is wonderful to see that Test cricket has recently returned to the country.
“As a Club, one of MCC’s priorities is to maintain its global relevance on the game by supporting countries in their provision for cricket, and we are united with the global game in wanting to see international teams returning to play in Pakistan.
“Of course the predominant focus has been assessing the relative safety and security considerations, and we are working closely with the PCB to manage a robust security plan to ensure the tour can take place.”
Kumar Sangakkara, MCC President, said: “It is hugely important to support cricket in countries such as Pakistan, and the PCB has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the international cricketing landscape since the tragic events of 2009.
“I am excited to be captaining MCC on the tour to Pakistan. With international cricket having returned for the first time in a decade, it is wonderful the Club is doing its part to strengthen cricket in Pakistan and I look forward to being part of the trip.”
Wasim Khan, Chief Executive of the PCB said: “Following months of dialogue, and the opportunity to put Pakistan’s compelling case forward to the prestigious and important MCC World Cricket committee, I am delighted that MCC has confirmed that it will send a touring team to Lahore in February.
“The decision by the world’s oldest and most influential cricket club to send a quality team is further testament that Pakistan is as safe and secure a country as any other cricket-playing nation in the world, and MCC’s tour is a further step forward in normalising team tours to Pakistan.
“The PCB looks forward to welcoming the MCC cricket team and we fully expect the squad to have a thoroughly enjoyable time.”
All of MCC’s matches on the tour will be played at Aitcheson College in Lahore. Guy Lavender will be the Team Manager of the squad, and MCC Head Coach Ajmal Shahzad will coach the group.