MUMBAI: Kumar Sangakkara will lead a Marylebone Cricket Club side on their tour of Lahore in February to help Pakistan in their bid to convince touring sides to return to play test cricket in the country, the club said on Wednesday.
The MCC, which was founded in 1787, will play a number of matches in the city in February after its World Cricket Committee voiced support in seeing touring sides return to Pakistan at meeting held at Lord’s in August.
Pakistan is currently hosting Sri Lanka in a two-match series, their first tests on home soil since the 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore left six security personnel and two civilians dead and six players injured.
Other teams refused to travel to Pakistan due to security concerns and the side were forced to play home tests at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates.
The PCB promised watertight security for the Sri Lankan players as the team returned to play several limited overs matches earlier this year – though 10 key players opted out citing security concerns.
A full-strength Sri Lankan side, however, returned for the tests, the first of which was drawn in Rawalpindi.
Former Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara, who took over as the first non-British president of the MCC in October in a one-year post, said he was excited to lead the club side in Pakistan.
“It is hugely important to support cricket in countries such as Pakistan, and the PCB has done a tremendous job in rebuilding the international cricketing landscape since the tragic events of 2009,” he said in a statement.
“With international cricket having returned for the first time in a decade, it is wonderful the Club is doing its part to strengthen cricket in Pakistan and I look forward to being part of the trip.”
MCC works closely with world governing body International Cricket Council and undertakes overseas tours, where they play exhibition matches to help in the development of the game.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan welcomed the decision of MCC, which has been based at Lord’s, which it owns, since 1814 and is the custodian of the Laws of the game.
“The decision by the world’s oldest and most influential cricket club to send a quality team is further testament that Pakistan is as safe and secure a country as any other cricket-playing nation in the world, and MCC’s tour is a further step forward in normalising team tours to Pakistan,” he said.