Next month's one-day series between Pakistan and Australia in the UAE has received security clearance following checks by both countries. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are hosting five one-day matches and a Twenty20 international between the two countries after security concerns forced Australia to cancel their tour to Pakistan.
A series of Test matches rescheduled for later in the year could also be played in the UAE. The opening of the new Dubai Sports City takes place on April 22 when it holds the first match of the series. "We comply with all the ICC regulations and the inspectors seemed happy with what they saw," said the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council chief executive and Emirates Cricket Board member Dilawar Mani. "If the teams require any additional requirements, we will liaise with the relevant authorities to ensure they are met," he added.
New Zealand are another side who have declined to tour Pakistan and, again, the UAE is willing to step in to stage the Test and one-day international series. "We would be delighted to host the tournament and have offered to do so," said Mani. "We are here to promote cricket and will do anything in our power to help. But the Pakistan Cricket Board are investigating all options and there is also a possibility they could stage the games in Australia, but we are here if they need us."
Asked whether the pitches at Abu Dhabi and Dubai would hold up to the rigours of a five-day Test, Mani seemed confident. "There shouldn't be a problem," he said. "We have played plenty of three and four-day cricket and the wicket held up very well." The UAE was also on standby to hold the ICC Champions Trophy after security fears prompted the switch from Pakistan. But the ICC have now proposed South Africa, and a final decision will be made on March 16, subject to agreement over financial arrangements.
Cricket officials in Sri Lanka, the designated back-up venue for the competition, have admitted their country would almost certainly suffer weather problems during the proposed date of the tournament, Sept 24 to Oct 5. The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "Given that the length of Champions Trophy has been reduced to 12 days, there would be no room for reserve days. South Africa was a successful host of the Twenty20 World Cup at the same time of the year two years ago and the weather pattern in Johannesburg is stable and ideal for cricket."