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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 July 2018

Emirates Cricket Board offer PCB assurances over hosting of Pakistan cricket in UAE

The UAE has long been the second home for Pakistan cricket, but worries over the volume of alternative competitions in the coming season threatened to dilute the relationship.

The ECB has assured the PCB that no leagues would be hosted “during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE”. Nezar Balout / AFP
The ECB has assured the PCB that no leagues would be hosted “during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE”. Nezar Balout / AFP

The Emirates Cricket Board say they will make a “significant reduction of the costs” of staging major events in the UAE for the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The ECB released a brief statement on Tuesday saying they have “held fruitful discussions on matters of mutual interest” with the PCB.

The UAE has long been the second home for Pakistan cricket, but worries over the volume of alternative competitions in the coming season threatened to dilute the relationship.

Pakistan cricket’s governing body were understood to have been highly concerned with the surfeit of new events set to be staged in the Emirates next winter.

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It is possible that as many as six tournaments could – either fully or at least in part – take place at UAE stadia from September onwards, in addition to bilateral series involving the Pakistan national team.

The Asia Cup will be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in September. That is due to be followed by a new Afghanistan Twenty20 League, then the second season of the T10 League, as well as a new UAE-organised T20 event.

The Pakistan Super League is pencilled in for its fourth season in February and March. There is also an outside chance some of the Indian Premier League could be transferred to UAE in April, dependent on India’s elections.

Quite how the calendar is going to look remains to be seen. The Pakistan team have generally started their international bilateral campaigns in late September or early October, with Australia due to play two Test matches here next winter, and New Zealand three.

If they are played in October, that would jeopardise the new Afghan league – or at least likely preclude Pakistan players from being involved.

The ECB did at least explicitly state that no leagues would be hosted “during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE”.

According to their statement, the ECB say that “in principle” both boards have agreed on a variety of issues.

Firstly, the PCB will continue to host its major tournaments in the UAE. The ECB say they are committed to “a significant reduction of the costs to PCB of holding these tournaments with immediate effect”.

“The ECB will host a T20 and T10 League from December 10, 2018, to January 10, 2019 when there are no PCB fixtures in the UAE,” the ECB wrote.

“The ECB will not host any league during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE.”

Whether the latest discussions encourage the PCB to ease their stance on releasing players for the new UAE T20 competition is also unclear.

They have previously stated that no players will be permitted to play in the competition, for fear it could detract from their own product, the PSL.

The UAE competition will have a slightly different focus to many other T20 franchise leagues, with a strong accent on players from developing cricket countries.

However, the organisers are well aware of the need for household name players, particularly from Pakistan, with Shahid Afridi in particular still a major draw for supporters.