PCB Seek Help From ICC

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf will seek help from the International Cricket Council if Australia pull out of their tour to the troubled country next month.

Several Australian players have expressed their concerns over safety in Pakistan after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December.

PCB and Cricket Australia officials are scheduled to hold talks in Kuala Lumpur this week to ascertain whether the tour will go ahead.

If it is cancelled, Pakistan would have to wait until the end of the year to play Test cricket, which has prompted the PCB to call for ICC assistance.

Ashraf told The News:

"Pakistan are a major Test-playing nation and it will be a big injustice to us if we are left with just three Tests in an entire year.

"Our team, which last played a Test match in December of 2007, will have to wait for its next Test at the end of this year.

"Such a situation is unacceptable to us and damaging for our cricket. We believe that as the governing body of world cricket, the ICC will have to help us out and get the optimum possible number of (international) matches for our team. We will expect the ICC to intervene.

"Our cricketers have to play the optimum number of matches if we are to realise our target of becoming the world's best team."

Reports suggest the PCB have approached the India and Sri Lanka boards to arrange a series if Australia pull out.

But Ashraf refrained from confirming the news, saying:

"We are still counting on Australia to come here.

"Any efforts to fill in the gap if they pull out would only begin once they officially inform us they are pulling out."

Australia are due to play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 encounter on their tour to Pakistan.

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