PCB keen to host Australia in April

January 4th, 2009 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wants to host Australia in a proposed one-day series in April, a board official said Sunday.The official said the PCB wants to resume international cricket in Pakistan and a series against Australia will be a major step towards that direction.

He rejected reports that the PCB is planning to host the series that will include five One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 game in Kuala Lumpur or any other offshore venue.

“We would only explore the option of a neutral venue if Australia expressed any security concerns,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“Our first target is to host the series at home in a successful manner because it’s very important for Pakistan cricket that top teams come and play here.”

The PCB official was reacting to reports that Australia has reiterated its preference to play the ODI series in Pakistan. The Australians had postponed their tour of Pakistan in March-April last year citing security concerns, following the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto. However, Cricket Australia ensured PCB that it will send its team to Pakistan on two separate occasions in 2009.

Last week, there were reports in the Pakistani media that PCB is considering staging the matches in Kuala Lumpur fearing another pullout by Australia. Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, and chief operating officer Saleem Altaf are believed to have visited the facilities in Kuala Lumpur last month after attending an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting.

A CA spokesman said he was not privy to the plans outlined in the reports, and while he admitted any tour of Pakistan would again be subject to a security assessment, he indicated that Australia were keen on touring Pakistan, where they haven’t played since 1998.

“I am not aware of the PCB’s plans and at this stage,” CA spokesman Peter Young was quoted as saying in a report Sunday. “All I can say is that we are very, very keen to play Pakistan at the scheduled time and are looking forward to doing so, subject to the normal safety and security criteria that apply wherever we play.”

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