Lahore: The incoming president of the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Sunday cricket in Pakistan was again open for business, after a difficult year, which saw numerous teams cancel trips here because of fears for their security.
Ehsan Mani, speaking after a weeklong special coaching course for national coaches in Lahore, said the training sessions attended by representatives from 12 countries proved that Pakistan was back in the game. The national team was forced in the wake of September 11 to play two of its home series against the West Indies and Australia on neutral venues earlier this year. While Sri Lanka played a Test in Lahore in March unperturbed, New Zealand's tour to Pakistan two months later had to be cut short after one Test following a bomb blast in Karachi. "I am particularly delighted that this course has been held in Pakistan at a time when a number of countries have expressed reservations at visiting Pakistan, Mani, who will take over leadership of the ICC next year, said. "I also look forward to the ICC Development Committee meeting which has been scheduled to be held in December in Pakistan," he said. Mani said the Asian Cricket Council's (ACC) Development Programme had a comprehensive development plan. "Our objectives are focused at developing self reliance in coaching, umpiring, cricket administration, ground and pitch preparation, physical fitness, as well as grass root and high performance development in the non-Test playing ACC member countries." ACC development manager Zakir Hussain Syed, termed the course a huge success and participation of the two Indian coaches as a welcome sign. "At a time when Pakistan and India don't enjoy cricket relations, the presence of two high profile Indian cricket officials can be termed as a big achievement," Syed said. "This not only confirms the importance of the event, but might also help in reviving the relations. And if that happens, these two officials would be termed as the pioneers."
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