ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistan cricket officials forced to look for eggs in other baskets


Pakistani cricket officials may end up contacting three Test-playing nations including England and New Zealand to help them save the country’s home season in case Australia decided to pull out of their tour citing security reasons.

Sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) told ‘The News’ on Friday that England, New Zealand and Bangladesh are the only three Test-playing teams without any international commitments in April.

The PCB, which is still awaiting a final word from the Australians over the bilateral series, is yet to make contact with these countries but will have to try and line up matches against any one of them in case the Aussies opted against visiting Pakistan.

Cricket Australia (CA) seems almost certain to pull out of the tour of Pakistan which was supposed to begin on March 29 after receiving a briefing from their foreign ministry officials on Pakistan’s security situation earlier this week.

Reports coming from Australia indicate that the only way to save the series is to move to a neutral venue but the PCB continues to rule out such an option. The Board officials know from past experience that allowing a home series to be played on neutral soil is almost a useless option for the host nation. Pakistan agreed to play the home series against Australia in 2002 in Sri Lanka and UAE and ended up without gaining anything out of it.

That is precisely the reason why the PCB is making efforts to line up some international games at home during March-April to avoid a completely barren season rather than opting for offshore matches.

Top PCB officials have identified England, New Zealand and Bangladesh as the three teams which can be invited for an ODI series to fill in for the Aussies. The Board officials describe it as a worse case scenario but point out that Pakistan will have to line up some sort of matches to salvage what seems to be a dismal home season because of Australia’s reluctance in visiting Pakistan.

A PCB official told this correspondent that the Board is very confident that it would finalise a one-day series with a Test-playing nation in spite of the fact that its past two attempts failed to yield desired results.

The PCB requested India and Sri Lanka to play ODIs in Pakistan but both of them declined the invitation saying that their cricketers were already burdened with tight international commitments. Now the Board is looking towards England, New Zealand and Bangladesh with hope.

But the problem is that if Australia pulled out then there would be little or no chance that teams like New Zealand and England, who will have similar concerns, will agree to visit Pakistan in the current circumstances.

That would leave the PCB with the solitary option of inviting Bangladesh to fill in for Australia. Meanwhile, the PCB is looking towards the International Cricket Council (ICC) for its support in case the Australians failed to fulfill their commitment according to the ICC future tour programme (FTP).

But a PCB official rejected the impression that the ICC has decided to send in its security experts to Pakistan to pave the way for the Aussie visit. “The ICC is yet to inform us about any such plans,” said the official.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 8th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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