With matches suspended, Pakistan targeting global tours

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With matches suspended, Pakistan targeting global tours

KARACHI, Pakistan - Pakistan will continue to push for more international tours while top-level cricket on its soil is suspended over security fears, an official said Saturday.

“We are in negotiations with Sri Lankan and England boards for our Future Tour Programme series about the itinerary, venues and other conditions,” Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Subhan Ahmed told reporters. “The United Arab Emirates is one of the options [for a] neutral venue.”

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since March last year when terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, killing eight people and injuring seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach.

The attack forced the International Cricket Council to strip Pakistan of its share of 2011 World Cup matches, leaving India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as hosts of the February to April event.

Even before the attack, international teams had expressed reservations over touring the cricket-mad nation because of the ongoing battle with militants in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

As a result Pakistan had to play home matches in the U.A.E., New Zealand and England.

Ahmed said England is committed to playing Pakistan in 2012.

“Yes, it is a full tour in January 2012, of three Tests, five one-day matches and one Twenty20, and we haven’t decided on a venue yet, but U.A.E. is one of the options,” said Ahmed.

Cricket officials in the U.A.E. have already offered to host two series against Sri Lanka and England.

Ahmed expressed hope for the PCB’s efforts to bring back international cricket to Pakistan, but conceded it will take some time to win the confidence of touring sides.

“This is an ongoing process of negotiation with a number of boards we are in touch with, but this process will be gradual.

“To change perception about security we will have to start with junior tours which will give confidence to other boards and then full-fledged tours can begin. But this process will be slow and a lot will depend on the security situation in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s cricketers are currently touring New Zealand for three Twenty20, two Tests and six one-days before taking part in next year’s World Cup. They also tour the West Indies and Zimbabwe between April and August next year before their series against Sri Lanka and England.

Ahmed said the board is also looking for a window to play archrivals India.

“Both India and Pakistan are busy so it won’t be possible to have a full series but if there is a small slot there can be a short tour,” he said.

India stalled bilateral series with their archrivals in the wake of Mumbai attacks, which they blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

Ahmed said Zimbabwe is also committed to touring Pakistan for a one-day series.

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