Pakistani cricket has lost “hundreds of millions of dollars” and a generation of stars as a result of no Tests being played in the country for a decade.
So says its chief executive Wasim Khan, who predicts the sport can only sustain itself in Pakistan for three more years if rival teams continue boycotting the country.
Hoping to entice Australia for a first Test series in Pakistan since 1998, Wasim said the ramifications of not hosting international cricket since 2009 amid terrorism fears had been financially catastrophic.
“It’s difficult to put a figure on it but it would probably run into a few hundred million (dollars). At least a few hundred million,” he told AAP on Tuesday.
“We’ve had to play in the UAE and it costs us huge amounts of money to play in the UAE.
“I don’t think we can financially sustain ourselves if cricket keeps getting played in other areas.
“The Emirates Cricket Board have been good friends to Pakistan cricket for a long time, but it’s no longer an option for us because, as far as we’re concerned, it’s safe to play in Pakistan.”
New skipper Azhar Ali has played 73 Tests – but none in Pakistan.
“That’s the reality not only for the fans but also for the players,” Wasim said.
“We’ve probably lost part of a generation because they’ve not been able to grow up watching their heroes.
“We want players to be playing at home so our kids can be inspired to want to become cricketers, take up the game, like any other country.”
Wasim said he and his organisation would be doing everything in their power to have Pakistan host Australia in 2022.
“We know it all comes down to the players,” he said.
“Players have to feel confident. They have to feel comfortable in the environment they’re coming into.”
And Wasim believes there is absolutely no reason why Pakistan shouldn’t be hosting Tests, as it will next year when Sri Lanka return for the first time since their team bus was attacked in 2009.
“Terrorism is a scourge for everybody and we’ve probably lost more people to terrorism in Pakistan than any other country, but I firmly believe that all those things are behind us now,” he said.
“The last two or three years we’ve been incident-free in all the major cities.
“There’s a perception in the outside world which is not a reality of what’s going on in Pakistan.”
Wasim said he would not have relocated from England to Lahore 10 months ago with his wife and two daughters, aged 10 and 12, if it wasn’t safe
“It’s a great lifestyle,” he said.
“It’s a great cafe culture.
“Over 70 per cent of the Pakistani population is under 30, which is pretty phenomenal.
“It’s a young, vibrant country.”
Australian Associated Press