Pakistan mooting China as neutral venue for cricket

Friday, December 3, 2010

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is considering China as a neutral venue for its international cricket events as the foreign teams are not willing to visit Pakistan due to security threats.

According to PCB sources, Pakistan’s former captain and legendary batsman Javed Miandad presented a written report suggesting the board management to take special steps to finalise China as a neutral venue for international cricket matches, it was reported by Xinhua Friday.

“We should take immediate and solid steps to decide this issue soon before the time passes,” warned Miandad, PCB director and Pakistan’s cricket ambassador to China.

The future of cricket is very bright in China, a country with a big population, said Miandad, adding that Pakistan should help China technically to establish cricket infrastructure and new stadia.

He also suggested sending a group of former players as a coaching team to China to train the Chinese youth.

Cricket is the most popular game in Pakistan but the national team has not played a single international match on home soil since March 2009.

Foreign cricket teams refused to visit Pakistan after March 3, 2009, when some terrorist ambushed the bus of Sri Lankan cricketers on their way to ground for a match in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore.

At least eight people, including six policemen, were killed in cross firing. Besides many Pakistanis, seven Sri Lankan players were also injured in the attack that also targeted a rescue chopper. The Sri Lankan team cancelled its tour and went back to Colombo on the very next available flight.

Pakistan was the co-host of the cricket World Cup 2011 along with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka but in the wake of the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team and refusal from teams, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to strip Pakistan of its hosting rights.

Pakistan was supposed to hold 14 matches, including one semi-final but now eight of Pakistan’s matches have been awarded to India, four to Sri Lanka and two to Bangladesh.

With this decision, the PCB lost the revenue of million dollars and also an opportunity to boost up cricket culture in the country.

Taking an overview of the situation, the PCB has started to think of a secure, reliable and permanent neutral venue.

Sources revealed that Pakistan would put the idea across to China Dec 12 in Dhaka where it is to make a bid to host the 2012 Asia Cup cricket in Guangzhou, where the Asian Games concluded last week.

If China succeeds in its bid, it will be the first major international cricket event in China. And Pakistani authorities say that will pave the way for China as a neutral venue.

Syed Ashraful Haq, chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), also confirmed that the Chinese Cricket Association had “expressed its interest” in hosting the 2012 Asia Cup.

“If our ACC board agrees, China will have its first full-fledged, major international tournament,” Haq told Cricinfo.

The ACC board will meet Dec 12 in Dhaka to decide the venue for the Asia Cup among Guangzhou, Dhaka, Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

ACC authorities will also consider taking cricket out of traditional venues to new markets or new areas.

Ijaz Butt, PCB chairman, according to sources, was astonished by the quality of the ground and facilities provided in the cricket stadium in China and expressed his wish to make a venue for one of Pakistan’s offshore international games.

T20 international cricket tournament in the Asian Games was held at the Guangdong University of Technology, where the ground has an 80-metre boundary and seven pitches which suit international standards.

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