Kumar Sangakkara could return to Pakistan for the first time since the Lahore attacks 10 years ago, this time as MCC president. Sangakkara was part of the Sri Lanka touring team that was attacked by terrorists on the way to Gaddafi stadium for the third day’s play in March 2009, an attack that effectively spelt the end of international cricket being played in the country.
He has not made a public return since but in his new role as MCC president, he could do if the MCC decide to send a touring team to Pakistan. “Yes, if the opportunity arises and the tour definitely goes ahead I would be part of it for sure,” Sangakkara told ESPNcricinfo.
Sangakkara was not only on the bus that was attacked on the way from the team hotel, but he was injured by shrapnel in the process – one of six players injured. He has since spoken with some humour about the attack and has said, before becoming MCC President, that the decision to tour Pakistan should be down to the individual.
No side toured Pakistan for the next six years, until Zimbabwe broke that drought by playing a limited overs series in May 2015. Since then there has been a gradual increase in the number of high-profile and international games in the country. A World XI played a T20I series in 2017; West Indies did likewise in 2018. The PSL has held its final games in Pakistan over the last two seasons and the PCB wants to play much of the league in the country this season.
Most recently, Sri Lanka – who also played a solitary T20I in Lahore in 2017 – played six international games in Lahore and Karachi, the longest visit by an international side in this last decade. That was a side shorn of a number of leading players but potentially, Sri Lanka could also be playing at least one Test in Pakistan in December
At this stage, a tour by the MCC is far from confirmed, but feedback from Sri Lanka’s visit has been good.
“It’s great to see Sri Lanka tour Pakistan and the feedback that it was such a great tour, it was lovely, the players really enjoyed it,” Sangakkara said. “The security was very, very tight and they provided every single facility for the Sri Lanka team. The MCC has been discussing an MCC tour to Pakistan as well, Wasim Khan [PCB CEO] has been with us in many presentations at the World Cricket Committee and presenting us with various plans in terms of security and otherwise as to how that tour can go ahead.
“So there is a lot of positive chat and conversation around it and if they can manage that, that will be exceptional. I mean Pakistan is doing a huge amount of work to ensure that it is a safe place for countries to tour. I’m sure slowly but surely cricket will go back to Pakistan and players from Pak will be able to play in front of their home crowd.”