Mickey Arthur eager for Pakistan to resume full home schedule

Nine years on from the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur says he hopes “we’re really close” to the world’s leading teams touring there again.

International cricket in Pakistan was effectively suspended for several years after the 2009 attack.

Zimbabwe, however, played several limited-overs fixtures in Pakistan three years ago.

Pakistan have subsequently welcomed a World XI and last year played a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Lahore, while earlier this month they completed a 3-0 at home to the West Indies, the World Twenty20 champions.

But Test cricket has yet to resume in Pakistan, with the United Arab Emirates remaining their ‘home away from home’.

“I hope we’re really close,” Arthur told reporters on Wednesday.

“The colour, the passion, the excitement for our local people to see cricket there was amazing and for our players to play in front of their fans and families and just play at home was amazing.

“We’ve had a couple of those now — the World XI, Sri Lanka and now the West Indies,” he added. “They were great occasions so let’s hope that opens the door for a lot more cricket in Pakistan.”

Arthur, a former head coach of both his native South Africa and Australia, was speaking at Canterbury, where Pakistan begin their tour of Britain and Ireland with a four-day warm-up match against Kent starting Saturday.

Arthur’s first Test series in charge of Pakistan ended in an impressive 2- 2 draw in England in 2016.

He then oversaw Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy triumph, which culminated with a stunning win over arch-rivals India in the final of the one-day international tournament at The Oval in London.

Pakistan, after providing the opposition for Ireland’s inaugural Test, face England in a two-match series.

England will come into that campaign following Test series defeats in both Australia and New Zealand, but Arthur expects them to prove far more threatening on home soil.

“It’s a little bit early to get too controversial,” said a smiling Arthur when asked if Pakistan could could exploit the “weakness” of an England top- order featuring captain Joe Root.

“I saw Dawid Malan play exceptionally well in Perth…we know Root is world-class, (Jonny) Bairstow is world-class, they are a really good side.”

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