Kumar Sangakkara urges England and Australia to play leading role in cricket's return to Pakistan
"A strong Pakistan side playing in front of their home crowds is one of the best things that can happen to world cricket"
Last Updated: 10/05/20 8:00pm
England and Australia must play a leading role in facilitating the return of international cricket to Pakistan in the future, says Kumar Sangakkara.
Sky Sports Cricket accompanied Sri Lankan legend Sangakkara to Pakistan in February as part of the Marylebone Cricket Club's tour of the country for documentary MCC: On tour in Lahore, which you can watch in the video at the top of the page.
MCC president Sangakkara was part of the Sri Lankan side that was attacked in 2009 when 12 gunmen opened fire on the team bus near the Gaddafi Stadium, but the 42-year-old remains unmoveable in his belief that it's crucial that international cricket returns to Pakistan.
"It doesn't matter an Asian side going there or a secondary side in terms of world prominence when it comes to having security measures in place," he told Sky Sports' The Cricket Show.
"I think it's important that England or Australia, even South Africa, make up their minds to actually tour when security is assured and they have those discussions; the MCC tour will be a precursor to that."
England have not played a Test series in Pakistan since 2005, when Michael Vaughan's side suffered a 2-0 defeat, with subsequent series in 2011/12 and 2015/16 being staged in the United Arab Emirates.
Sangakkara, who scored over 26,000 international runs for Sri Lanka, says any potential future series in Pakistan cannot be drawn out affairs.
"There are a few things that players also need to accept when it comes to these restrictions. I don't think you are ever going to see in the near future a five-Test match series coupled with a one-day series played back-to-back.
"I think it will be more a case of you play two Test matches, you take a break, you go back and play three one-dayers.
"It's not exactly the right time for extended tours but I'm sure that with the right communication and the measures in place that players can go back and play some great quality cricket, have a great time and bring cricket back to Pakistan.
"A strong Pakistan side playing in front of their home crowds is one of the best things that can happen to world cricket."
The MCC won a 20-over match against Lahore Qalandars at the Gaddafi Stadium by four wickets before losing by five wickets to the Pakistan Shaheens in a 50-over fixture two days later, at Aitchison College, Lahore.
"We think there was about 18,000-19,000 people there on the first day [at the Gaddafi Stadium]," he recalled.
"To have them come out there in force - there were queues just as we got to the ground of people waiting to go in - and the reception that we got, the enthusiasm that they showed the happiness on their faces; their welcome, their hospitality, was absolutely incredible.
"It's a funny thing. When I thought I'd go back to Pakistan after 2009 I was pretty sure it would not be to play cricket but here we were, 10 years down the line, and I was there after having retired donning my cricket gear on and playing in front of what I remember to be one of the best venues I've ever played at with so much support."