Big news: Ireland open to touring Pakistan


Ireland are open to the prospect of touring Pakistan according to Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s chief executive. Ahead of the historic Test between the two countries inDublin on Friday, this news will come as a welcome boost to the PCB, though Pakistan’s home schedule this season means any tour may struggle to happen anytime soon.

“We’ve seen West Indies’ recent tour which went well,” Deutrom told Pakistan’s Daily Express. “We’ve also seen that some PSL matches were held in Lahore and Karachi and went off well. Before taking any decision we will definitely discuss the situation with ICC security and take input from Pakistan itself, but I can see that in the near future, a tour to Pakistan is possible.”

How near in the future is open to question. Officials from both boards have suggested that very brief, informal and preliminary communications have been had on the subject, potentially leading to a formal invite from the PCB chairman Najam Sethi, who will be in Dublin for the game.

But Sethi insisted that a busy year ahead meant there was simply no room for a tour. “There is no such item for discussion on my Dublin trip agenda,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “The fact is that Pakistan has no slot available outside our FTP for the next twelve months.”

Pakistan’s home season this year includes an Asia Cup in the UAE, tours by Australia and New Zealand and then the PSL. In between they travel to South Africa.

Nearly four years ago, Ireland were on the verge of touring Pakistan. Cricket Ireland were keen at the time for a series of three ODIs, but a terrorist attack on the Karachi airport scuppered those negotiations.

Pakistan has since begun hosting a number of high-profile games, including internationals in both Lahore and Karachi. Since the beginning of 2017, two PSL finals have been staged in the country, as well as two T20I series against a World XI and West Indies, and a solitary T20I against Sri Lanka.

The PCB has also extended an offer to New Zealand Cricket to play one of their T20Is later this year in Pakistan.

Beyond security and the schedule, there could be another hitch if such a tour does materialise. There have been indications that Irish players may look for a deal similar to West Indies players when they toured Pakistan – where they were effectively offered the incentive of a separate fee on top of their regular match fees to tour.

In 2015, the PCB paid Zimbabwe players extra to tour, and it was the PCB who paid players from the World XI for their series last year. But that is something the PCB is actively trying to move away from now, reasoning that the more high-profile cricket that is played in Pakistan, the more it should be seen as a safer venue not requiring them to pay extra money to lure teams in.

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