Pakistan Rule Out Neutral Venue

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf has ruled out the possibility of moving this month's proposed home series against Australia to a neutral venue.

Tim Nielsen's side were due to arrive on the sub-continent on March 29 but recent security concerns in Pakistan have again put the tour in doubt with Cricket Australia (CA) reassessing the situation.

The Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) also refused to send their chief executive, Paul Marsh, to review security arrangements in the country with reports suggesting the fixtures could now be switched to a neutral venue in order to ensure the tour goes ahead.

Ashraf has denied any such developments, though.

"The PCB will not shift the series to any other venue and all such reports regarding the board considering other options are total rubbish,"

he told the Dawn.

"The PCB has already rejected such a proposal made by CA during a meeting in Dubai last month because we feel that it will damage our cricket.

"If today we decide in favour of a neutral venue, the other teams will also make it a practice and that will only harm the game."

Pakistan's foreign affairs department has briefed both CA and the ACA regarding the security arrangements in the country and the PCB are now awaiting the final verdict.

"We did not receive any call from CA after the briefing,"

Ashraf continued.

"I don't know what the latest is in Australia after the briefing but the PCB is ready to assure them top-level security in Pakistan.

"We are hosting the Asia Cup in July and the entire world will see how safe Pakistan is as far as cricket is concerned. I believe Pakistan is as safe for cricket as it was a year ago.

"During the past year we have successfully hosted West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe besides playing matches here against Australia A and other junior outfits."

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