Colombo, March 28 (IANS) International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat hopes Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal clash between India and Pakistan would bring the two countries closer.
Cricket has again brought together the two countries, who have not played on each other’s territory since the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
Lorgat said he was delighted that cricket diplomacy has encouraged the two countries to come together.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has accepted his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh’s invitation to witness the match.
“There is nothing quite like nation versus nation cricket. But in Mohali there will be another massive factor that will add to the notion. I hope to see the mighty power of sport and the great spirit of cricket providing a platform for the two governments around this semifinal.
“Certain countries, when they play, it’s romanticism, it’s massive and wherever they play it’s big, so we like to see cricket providing that platform for India and Pakistan.
“Cricket diplomacy is better than no diplomacy,” Lorgat said while addressing a press conference Monday at the Sri Lankan Press Club here on the future of the 50-over format.
The Indian and Pakistani governments have often used cricket to improve relations. It was first in 1987 that then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had invited Pakistan president General Zia-ul-Haq to witness a Test match in Jaipur.
In 2005, at the invitation of Manmohan Singh, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf had visited Delhi to watch an India-Pakistan one-dayer.
Lorgat also reiterated that the success of the 50-over format has given a new lease of life to the shorter format of the game.
“The more we talked of a game in crisis the more we created the crisis and more it fuelled the talk of doom and despondency,” Lorgat said.
“And all the time there was no real evidence of crisis.”
He said ICC’s market reasearch on the game will surprise everyone.
“We tested five key markets to look at trends around the three international forms of the game–Test, 50 overs and Twenty20 cricket,” he said.
“The result were interesting to say the least. Some might even find them hard to believe. What it has showed is that the fans still have an apetite for the 50-over format.
“A total of 676 million people in the five markets, England, New Zealand, India, South Africa and Bangladesh expressed not just an interest but a passion for the ODIs.”