West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has endorsed Pakistan as “one of the safest places” in the world, weeks after Test cricket returned to the country after a decade.

No Test-playing nation had visited Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus near Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

Last month, it was the Sri Lankan national team itself, albeit a weakened one, that became the first elite side team to tour the country since that attack almost a decade ago.

When Gayle was asked if Pakistan is a safe country for cricket during the Bangladesh Premier League, he responded, “Pakistan is one of the safest places right now in the world. They say you will get presidential security so you are in good hands. I mean we are in good hands too in Bangladesh, right?”

Gayle is currently playing for Chattogram Challengers in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Sri Lanka’s visit prompted an optimistic Pakistan Cricket Board to invite Bangladesh for three T20Is and two Tests. The BCB, however, is yet to take a call on the tour after their proposal of playing half the matches of the series in Bangladesh was turned down.

‘Would love to carry on’

Gayle, meanwhile, has swatted away talk of his retirement from cricket soon, suggesting he wants to be at the crease for at least five more years.

Gayle arrived in Bangladesh this month to play in the domestic Twenty20 league after initially voicing surprise at his inclusion in the tournament’s draft, claiming he was taking a break from the sport. But speaking on Thursday, the hard hitter said he was in good health and still had “a lot to offer”.

“A lot of people still want to see Chris Gayle out in the middle. I still have that love for the game and that passion for the game. I would love to carry on as long as possible in T20 and franchise cricket as well,” he told reporters in Bangladesh. “Let’s talk at 45. I think that’s a good number,” added Gayle, who turned 40 last year.

Though he has not appeared for the West Indies since a one-day international against India in August, Gayle kept himself open for the selection for November’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

“It would be nice. Like I said, the door is open for a chance. Let’s see what happens.” he said. “We have some bright youngsters ahead as well. I have left the option open to hear back from them as well and see if they want the Universe Boss.”

Gayle played in several editions of the Bangladesh Premier League and is the tournament’s highest run scorer among foreign players. He had his debut for the current season on Tuesday with the Chattogram Challengers, scoring 23 off 10 balls, including three sixes in one over, in a narrow win against the Rajshahi Royals.

(With inputs from AFP)