x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UAE will host Pakistan series against Sri Lanka and England

Abu Dhabi and Dubai will play host to Sri Lanka's tour in October and November and England's in January and February.

Pakistan fans watch their team play against South Africa in Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium in December 2010 — the last time the UAE staged Pakistan's home series.
Pakistan fans watch their team play against South Africa in Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium in December 2010 — the last time the UAE staged Pakistan's home series.

Cricket officials in the country do not want to be viewed as opportunists after agreeing to host Pakistan’s next two Test series.

Dilawar Mani, the chief executive of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) welcomed the fact that top international stars such as Kumar Sangakkara and Kevin Pietersen could be playing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai when Pakistan entertain Sri Lanka and England in the UAE.

But he said he was hopeful that Pakistan would soon be able to return to playing Tests in their homeland.

There have been suggestions that the ECB could work out a long-term deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to make the UAE their permanent home, but Mani has ruled that out.

“We would be delighted to do that, but quiet honestly it might send out the wrong signals to the other cricket boards, which is Pakistan is unable to host now or in the future,” Mani said. “So we have to be careful with something like that.

“A long-term arrangement is obviously in the best interest of all, but we also have to look at their interest of hosting in Pakistan.

“We don’t want to be opportunists. We would always prefer Pakistan host their own games just as every other country does.”

International teams have refused to travel to Pakistan over security concerns after gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team in March 2009 when eight people died and seven Sri Lanka cricketers and an assistant coach were wounded.

The UAE has been used as the Pakistan team’s adopted home both before and after the incident, hosting series against the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The PCB yesterday confirmed they will return for a series of three Tests, five one-day internationals (ODI) and a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka later this year.

Pakistan will then come back in January to play possibly three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s against England.

The PCB had considered other venues, such as Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, before they decided on the UAE.

And while Mani was happy to accommodate the Pakistanis, he said: “You want the game to be played in every country, especially when it comes to the full members and I think that is in the best interest of the ICC [International Cricket Council] and its member boards.

“But given the situation in Pakistan, which is not in the control of the PCB, we would welcome them. Still we wish that every country could host their series themselves.

“While they are unable to do it, we would obviously make sure that they are most welcome here.

“This is their second home, but I don’t believe one should be trying to take advantage of any of these factors.

“If you go into a long-term arrangement, it just might send out the wrong signals.”

Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of operations, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying: “We did consider a number of options for both the series, but it is the right of the home board to decide the venue and finally we have confirmed UAE for all the matches in both the series,”

The high cost of staging a series in the UAE was one of the reasons for Pakistan looking elsewhere.

“We have always tried to do it cost effectively, but we are not hosting in Pakistan, so there is a cost differential,” Mani said.

“But obviously, after their cost evaluation, we have been chosen because it is the best venue for them in terms of both revenue and cost.

“We are delighted with this decision and we most warmly welcome them. I hope the cricket-loving public will thoroughly enjoy the event being hosted in the UAE.

“It’s great for the UAE and hopefully the PCB will feel as warmly received as they have always done in the past.

“They get great support here and they get great hosting. The Emirates Cricket Board along with the venues ensure that every requirement of theirs is met. Obviously this is a second home to them and we want them to feel home.”