LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi has acknowledged the fact that the Gaddafi Stadium was not packed to capacity for the opening match of the Independence Cup series on Tuesday evening because of the high prices of tickets.
Tickets for each match of the Twenty20 International series against the World XI were priced at 500, 2500, 4000, 6000 and 8000 rupees.
“We have realised our mistake in setting prices for the match tickets,” Sethi said while addressing the media along withInternational Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday. “Probably, that’s one reason why we didn’t see a packed to capacity stadium yesterday,” he added.
The same could be said of the second match. While one could see enthusiastic cricket fans queuing up to get into the shuttle buses and at security check points, there were still empty seats inside the stadium.
“We were misled by the trend we saw in the PSL (Pakistan Super League) when prices were unimportant and irrelevant and people paid highest prices to come and witness the event,” Sethi said. “We should have kept lower prices here for the series. But I can assure you that we’ll learn from this and significantly reduce prices in future,” he said.
When a journalist raised this issue, the PCB chief admitted the mistake. “You are absolutely right about prices,” Sethi said. “We made a mistake.He said some people might have stayed away because of the strict security arrangements. “The security was so tight that many people from different areas couldn’t reach or went back home,” he said.
“We can do very little about it as despite our requests, the Punjab government is relentless in providing security,” Sethi added.Earlier, the PCB chief thanked Richardson for his role in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan. “He has played a major role in helping and sustaining Pakistan over the years. He is an invaluable ally in the ICC,” Sethi said.
He said that after winning the Champions Trophy, Pakistan were targeting the 2019 World Cup. “The world should wake up to what Pakistan is all about. The world knows that Pakistan has a tremendously talented team that has had its ups and downs.
“But my sense is we are going to go up and up. For that reason for those who do not wish to play us for one reason or the other — that has more to do with politics than cricket — that will entirely be their loss,” he said.
Richardson, the former South African wicketkeeper-batsman, said he was very happy to be back in Pakistan. “Let me start by saying a big thank you to the people of Pakistan for their continued support of cricket over the last few years in what would be a difficult time for lack of international cricket in your country,” he said.
“The fact that the people have been loyal to cricket and their team is one of the reasons for Pakistan reaching the No 1 ranking in Tests and more recently winning the Champions Trophy.“All credit to the PCB for pressing ahead and arranging the tour and of course the efforts made by all the security agencies for ensuring that the tour can proceed in a safe environment,” he added.
He said that security was an issue across the world for all sports. Richardson said the World XI series was an important stepping stone for Pakistan. He had words of appreciation for both teams and officials, particularly for the World XI squad and match referee RichieRichardson.
“It’s a good example of the cricket family sticking together to help a particular member country. This will be of enormous help in persuading and convincing other countries that Pakistan is capable of arranging events in a very safe manner,” the ICC chief executive said.