x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

ECB keen on long-term ties with Pakistan

The proposal could see the UAE host Pakistan's "home" matches for the next three years.

A Pakistan supporter enjoying himself during a Twenty20 match at Dubai Sports City last year.
A Pakistan supporter enjoying himself during a Twenty20 match at Dubai Sports City last year.

ABU DHABI // As local cricket authorities battle to win the staging rights for this winter's one-day international series between Pakistan and New Zealand, the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) have revealed a long-term proposal that could see the UAE host all the subcontinent side's "home" matches over the next three years. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt is in Dubai today to discuss with the International Cricket Council issues pertaining to the removal of their status as co-hosts of the 2011 World Cup.

A terror attack in Lahore, which injured seven players and a coach of the visiting Sri Lankan team, ensured that the World Cup was taken away from Pakistan and also signified that they must play home matches at neutral venues for at least some time now. While the PCB chairman will be discussing Pakistan's four one-day international series and their two Twenty20 matches against New Zealand and the most viable options of Abu Dhabi and Dubai to host them, the ECB chief executive Dilawar Mani said they are planning for the future as well.

"We have a proposal with the PCB that benefits all parties," said Mani before adding: "It has to be a win-win for everyone, but it's with the PCB and up to them to decide." Mani believes it may be "three or four years" before Pakistan can realistically host internationals again. However, extended sponsorship and corporate agreements in the ECB's proposal will guarantee PCB financial protection. "We're working strictly to Pakistan's instructions and the deal offers flexibility to both parties - we can build a good relationship," he said.

The UAE hosted Pakistan's ODI and Twenty20 games against Australia earlier this year. The success of those fixtures led many to assume the New Zealand games would be shared again between Dubai Sports City and Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium. But, according to Mani, the contracts remain unsigned. "It's a little premature [to say a deal has been reached], Pakistan have options - one of which is Malaysia - but we're in discussions and engaging with them," he said.

However, while the ECB chief confirmed the UAE is in the driving seat to stage the matches in November, he also reiterated the importance of concluding negotiations early in order to manage logistical and marketing duties. "At this point in time we are the preferred choice, but [any deal] is subject to certain financial terms and conditions. Pakistan have asked for data and we're hoping to provide this by early September.

"We'll discuss the New Zealand series then, there is no room for delay. There are a lot of logistics which go into preparing a match and it needs to be resolved as soon as possible," Mani said. A successful hosting of the New Zealand series would hold the ECB in good stead for signing the long-term deal. Mani, though, is biding his time as he looks to broker the complicated agreement. "It is something we will discuss in September," he said.