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Inzamam: hard times lie ahead

The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan on Tuesday will have far-reaching and detrimental implications for cricket in the country, according to Inzamam-ul-Haq.

The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan on Tuesday will have far-reaching and detrimental implications for cricket in the country, according to the country's former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq. Inzamam warned that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could face a financial meltdown since foreign teams were unlikely to play their scheduled series in Pakistan after the attack in Lahore that left six players and a coach wounded.

"The attack on the Sri Lankans means we should brace ourselves for some tough times," Inzamam said yesterday. "I don't see any team coming to Pakistan for a long time now which would affect the sources of income for the PCB." New Zealand were to be the next team to visit Pakistan later this year under the International Cricket Council (ICC) future tours schedule, but the prospect of the series taking place appears "highly unlikely", according to New Zealand Cricket's chief executive Justin Vaughan.

Tuesday's attack on the Sri Lankan team bus as it neared the stadium, in which eight people were killed, is the first time a visiting sports team have been attacked by militants in Pakistan. Inzamam pointed out that Pakistan were now almost certainly limited to just two options: play home series' at neutral venues or be content with taking part in overseas tours only. "In both cases the Pakistan board will not earn as much money as it would hosting teams," Inzamam said.

Pakistan are playing a one-day series against Australia in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month after Ricky Ponting's team refused to tour because of security concerns. Last year, the West Indies turned down an invitation for a Test series, while the ICC have already moved the Champions Trophy from Pakistan due to security issues. Meanwhile, the "home" of cricket at Lord's, Edgbaston and Headingley could all be possible venues for Australia's future Test series against Pakistan after the British government offered to act as a temporary hosts to the Pakistan team. Britain's sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe made the offer to Pakistani officials on Tuesday.

When Australia originally refused to start their tour of Pakistan, three Tests and five one-dayers scheduled for 2008, the games were postponed until 2010. The one-day series was subsequently moved to Abu Dhabi, but the Test series is yet to be arranged. "Pakistan has started the discussion about playing three Test matches at neutral venues in England in 2010," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said yesterday. "It's a work in progress, but in principle we've been comfortable and talking with them."

The UAE may be considered as an alternative venue, though the fact that Test cricket has never been on the country's wickets may affect the Emirates' chances. * With agencies

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