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PCB hoping to convince England, Australia to tour Pakistan

9:31 AM ETUmar FarooqPakistan correspondent, ESPNcricinfo FacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprint

The Pakistan Cricket Board has scheduled a fresh round of talks with officials from Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board after the World Cup to discuss the resumption of international cricket in the country.

The board is also set to officially discuss Sri Lanka’s and Bangladesh’s scheduled visits to the country as per the FTP. The discussions between the PCB and officials at SLC and BCB is expected to take place in Singapore on May 26 during the sidelines of an Asian Cricket Council meeting.

With their international broadcasting rights ending next year, the PCB has set sights on reviving international cricket in the country, with Australia and England scheduled to visit in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

“Tom Harrison, ECB’s chief executive is coming to Pakistan,” Wasim Khan, PCB’s managing director, told ESPNcricinfo. “He is excited to come in two to three months (after World Cup) and he wants to stay and experience living in the country. Because we are going to host them in 2021-22 and we are opening our conversation with them from now because it is such a matter which takes time considering they haven’t toured Pakistan in 13 to 14 years.

“But they are very positive about touring Pakistan which is good for us. He will come to look at our stadiums and will see our security plans. Kevin Roberts, Cricket Australia chief executive, is also expected to visit. So it’s about relation building and it’s very encouraging that they are making efforts to come to us.”

Pakistan’s five-year broadcasting deal, which ends next year, suffered a major blow during the ongoing cycle when India did not fulfill their commitments of two series. The losses were valued over USD 70 million. With the new broadcasting cycle, PCB are looking to secure a hike in the value of Pakistan cricket’s international broadcasting rights. They had sold their PSL three-year broadcast rights last year for approximately USD 36 million.

“Financial health of PCB is decent and in a good place, but not playing India is a big hit for us and has been a big issue,” Wasim said. “That’s why it’s important for us to bring international team back to Pakistan. It might seem a bit premature when I talked about engaging England and Australia long way before our series, but it’s a process that takes time. We have our sight set on renewing out new international broadcasting rights ending next year. So, the coming year is an important time for us financially.”

This year marked 10 years of the attacks on the Sri Lanka team that led to Pakistan being a no-go zone for international teams. Over the years, however, the PCB has tried to revive international cricket by holding a series of exhibition matches, as well as progressively increasingly the hosting of PSL games in the country.

For starters, they are hoping to convince Sri Lanka to play a part of their scheduled limited-overs series in Pakistan in September. “We’ve got a series against Sri Lanka in September, we’re hoping that will be played in Pakistan, but we need to have those conversations with the Sri Lanka cricket board,” Wasim said. “Ehsan Mani (PCB chairman) and I are meeting Sri Lankan board officials this month in Singapore during Asian Council meeting to take it officially. This will be our first round of talk with them about playing in Pakistan and the series will be very important.”

After the Sri Lanka series, Pakistan are scheduled to host Bangladesh but the boards have sparred on a number of issues in recent years. Pakistan had called off a Bangladesh tour in 2017. Earlier this year, Bangladesh refused to tour for two T20Is.

Pakistan has been avoiding hosting Bangladesh in UAE over unfeasible commercial viability. Wasim, however, said PCB will invite Bangladesh as per schedule as the series is a part of ICC Test Championship, hoping it will be played in Pakistan.

“Their head of security came to Karachi this year during PSL and we had very positive conversations,” Wasim said. “Even they were telling that it’s very safe, good environment, how good security plans are. So we have a bilateral agreement for Test championship so its in their schedule and we are not been that they are not coming and will speak to them and firm up our plans.”