'Pakistan a safe cricket destination'

HARARE - Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane has described Pakistan as a safe destination as he cleared the air on last year’s visit by the Zimbabwe cricket team during his meeting with the Pakistan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Asaf Khan yesterday.

Last year, Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan for a bilateral limited overs series since the infamous 12 gunmen attack on a Sri Lankan team bus near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore injuring six players, six Pakistan policemen and killing two civilians in March 2009.

“We must state that we have over the years reliably relied on Pakistan for support in the matrix of global cricket management and design and we are very appreciative to the Pakistan government, to its people and to the Pakistan Cricket Board for that kind gesture,” Hlongwane said yesterday.

“I must state at the outset that it is our wish that this strong relationship in respect of cricket would continue.

“Last year Zimbabwe visited Pakistan to play cricket and of course there was a miscommunication on our side in terms of how the matter was handled but I wanted you to know that we fully support Pakistan cricket.

“We also support that cricket should be played in Pakistan. We think that Pakistan is an important actor in terms of global cricket development and we want those good relations in that particular area to continue.”

The contentious visit to Pakistan in May last year was largely condemned by the Sports and Recreation Commission who instituted legal proceedings which claimed the scalp of former Zimbabwe Cricket interim chairperson Wilson Manase.

He was however; cleared by the Administrative Court last month after judge Justice Herbert Mandeya argued that the SRC erred in their legal exercise.

“Zimbabwe hasn’t been doing very well as know and they are opportunities for the development of cricket for Zimbabwe in this relationship including the fact that we could have exchange programmes,” Hlongwane added.

“Pakistan has a very good academy that could be of benefit to Zimbabwe. We know that it is very safe and we think that those are opportunities we could explore together with a view to making sure there’s mutual benefit between our two sisterly countries.”     

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