New age October 15, 2008

Debate for the future 2: The English option

I have never been a fan of neutral venues but the predicament of Pakistan cricket calls for pragmatism
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I have never been a fan of neutral venues but the predicament of Pakistan cricket calls for pragmatism. Pakistan's cricketers require regular international competition. Another year of desolation, like 2008, may condemn Pakistan cricket to a slippery slope that cannot be climbed.

Hence, Pakistan must embrace neutral venues for countries unwilling to travel there.

The second question, however, is where to play. The dustbowls of the Gulf create a depressing, energy-sapping version of Test cricket that is no advancement on playing in Pakistan.

Why not turn adversity into opportunity?

Choose a venue that can produce compelling cricket, vibrant crowds, and an essential educational experience for Pakistan's cricketers. Choose a venue that offers cricket when other teams will be available to rearrange cancelled series, and will relish the experience. Choose a venue that could turn the PCB from villains to heroes.

I'm with Giles Clarke. Pakistan should choose the English option.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KS on October 21, 2008, 17:03 GMT

    More comments since I had run out of space, I agree that the spectators are a bigger worry,and that is reason enough under CURRENT circumstances to select a venue such as England, for now. THe PCB needs revenue, the players need to play, it is as simple as that. Being exposed to English conditions can be a valuable learning experience, and a chance to get away from dead Pakistani pitches. The games will attract a HUGE audience,the expats will fill up the stadiums,yes, people will come to see test matches!! Remember how Gaddafi stadium looked like the last time we had a TEST MATCH there? It is time to swallow our false pride, grow a set of ablls, and admit WE HAVE A PROBLEM. It is not just the Australians but the ENGLISH/SOUTH AFRICANS/NZ AND NOW THE WINDIES. It is not a matter of "white cricketers"!! It is OUR problem and WE need to fix it. NOT THEM!!

  • KS on October 21, 2008, 16:48 GMT

    Dear Mr. Abbasi..At this stage, since beggars can't be choosers, we must understand the Australian's perspective, why should any team risk their safety to play cricket in Pakistan? I admit that as a Pakistani I am upset by Symonds' comments about the safety issues but is he really wrong? Where else in this entire cricketing world is this kind of violence being witnessed on a DAILY basis? Also, I am a big fan of Imran Khan, including his political views, but I found his explanation of why cricketers will never be targetted as feeble.According to Imran it would be publicly acceptable to destroy ordinary people who just opened their fast, but not cricketers as that would change public opinion. Is'nt this reasoning asinine? Play in England, win some matches and get your pride back! Also, it seems that in PCB the clowns keep running the circus, now it is Ijaz Butt. Why has he publicly talked about Lawson, seems like he, the CHAIRMAN/chamcha du jour now needs a lesson in professional ethics?

  • Nadeem Mohammed on October 21, 2008, 12:41 GMT

    TO: Rauf

    You mentioned "I don't mind Pak cricket isolation for few years as long as we fix the internal problems for good and show others that we can hold our own" - Pak cricket is isolation? is that your resolution?, and "hold our own"?, now that is quite amusing.

    If you call playing abroad in Eng as not a viable option, then "holding our own" will NEVER happen and as a consequence Pakistani cricket will never flourish like it did with legends. The country is in turmoil and we need short-term solutions, whether we play cricket elsewhere or hold these trivial tournaments, then so be it. This is how Pakistani cricket will improve in terms of professionalism and more importantly with hunger and passion for the game, which sadly it lacks, both from the players and from the administration.

    Pakistani Supporter (whatever the situation).

  • Shafiq on October 21, 2008, 4:31 GMT

    I d prefer playing in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh as Regional (brother) countries of same nature (crowd, conditions, emotions) over playing in land of Old masters. Well few T20 or ODIs can be played in Old Trafford etc but not Tests.

  • CRICKETEXPERT on October 20, 2008, 9:21 GMT

    I didn't say that Imran Khan isn't allowed to comment on the cricket in Pakistan. I said that theres no need for sad and pathetic people like you to cry about someone being head of PCB when the guy doesn't even want to do it anyway. Why don't you pick someone who is committed to doing the job?

  • what's-in-a-name on October 20, 2008, 3:59 GMT

    Choose this and choose that, but you are fogetting something here my friend, and that is:

    Beggers Can Not Be Choosers

  • Ali Dada on October 20, 2008, 3:22 GMT

    Pakistani team represents Pakistan, not another country. What would we achieve by playing in another country?

    All cricketing venues in Pakistan, including Peshawar are safe to play these days. Alhamdolillah there hasn't been any incident lately. Why do the countries assume it is unsafe to play in Pakistan? How is not unsafe to play in Kenya or in India or in Sri Lanka then? Last time I checked, there have been huge terrorist bombings in Kenya and there are similar problems in India and Sri Lanka.

    If anything, we must not forget our pride. By playing in another country, we are essentially proving to the World that nobody needs to tour Pakistan for short or long term.

    And forget cricket, how about other sports then? How about events and meetings in Pakistan? PCB will set the trend due to its coverage and popularity.

    Honestly, we don't need to be a part of ICC. They can play their cricket in Dubai or XYZ place but Pakistan should leave ICC and start its own league.

  • Martyn on October 18, 2008, 16:23 GMT

    To add to my point earlier (ran out of space, surprisingly) I think Pakistan is perfectly safe for cricketers to tour and that here is no security threat. There is NO WAY anything would be allowed to happen to them as they are so high profile. The targets, if there are any, would be supporters travelling from abroad who don't come with a secuity entourage. The safety of these people is the one that must be considered.

  • Martyn on October 18, 2008, 16:18 GMT

    I think that England playing host to Pakistan's test matches is an excellent idea. Everyone wins! Firstly, the Pakistani players (and supporters) actually get some cricket. Secondly, Britain's large ex-pat community will ensure every ground is full capacity. Thirdly, we in England have too many grounds and not enough matches to fill them -the grounds could take the ticket revenue and the television rights could be sold to ensure that people in Pakistan see the matches, generating revenue but ensuring the game is widely seen. Fourthly, young Pakistan cricketers will develop in English conditions as the County Chamionship is on its doorstep - they could even take the place of the Kolpaks - and the discipline and professionalism in this form of the game will educate the players, preventing a repeat of the Asif incident. Tests could also give England a rest and ensure their schedule isn't overcrowded

    The only downside? It would be an admission that Pakistan is not a safe place to tour.

  • Omer Admani on October 17, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    Test matches are always interesting in England and Pakistanis will have good support. The test matches in the gulf will be dead amid incredible heat and no crowds. England seems to be the only logical place, revenue-wise, and quality-of-cricket wise.

  • KS on October 21, 2008, 17:03 GMT

    More comments since I had run out of space, I agree that the spectators are a bigger worry,and that is reason enough under CURRENT circumstances to select a venue such as England, for now. THe PCB needs revenue, the players need to play, it is as simple as that. Being exposed to English conditions can be a valuable learning experience, and a chance to get away from dead Pakistani pitches. The games will attract a HUGE audience,the expats will fill up the stadiums,yes, people will come to see test matches!! Remember how Gaddafi stadium looked like the last time we had a TEST MATCH there? It is time to swallow our false pride, grow a set of ablls, and admit WE HAVE A PROBLEM. It is not just the Australians but the ENGLISH/SOUTH AFRICANS/NZ AND NOW THE WINDIES. It is not a matter of "white cricketers"!! It is OUR problem and WE need to fix it. NOT THEM!!

  • KS on October 21, 2008, 16:48 GMT

    Dear Mr. Abbasi..At this stage, since beggars can't be choosers, we must understand the Australian's perspective, why should any team risk their safety to play cricket in Pakistan? I admit that as a Pakistani I am upset by Symonds' comments about the safety issues but is he really wrong? Where else in this entire cricketing world is this kind of violence being witnessed on a DAILY basis? Also, I am a big fan of Imran Khan, including his political views, but I found his explanation of why cricketers will never be targetted as feeble.According to Imran it would be publicly acceptable to destroy ordinary people who just opened their fast, but not cricketers as that would change public opinion. Is'nt this reasoning asinine? Play in England, win some matches and get your pride back! Also, it seems that in PCB the clowns keep running the circus, now it is Ijaz Butt. Why has he publicly talked about Lawson, seems like he, the CHAIRMAN/chamcha du jour now needs a lesson in professional ethics?

  • Nadeem Mohammed on October 21, 2008, 12:41 GMT

    TO: Rauf

    You mentioned "I don't mind Pak cricket isolation for few years as long as we fix the internal problems for good and show others that we can hold our own" - Pak cricket is isolation? is that your resolution?, and "hold our own"?, now that is quite amusing.

    If you call playing abroad in Eng as not a viable option, then "holding our own" will NEVER happen and as a consequence Pakistani cricket will never flourish like it did with legends. The country is in turmoil and we need short-term solutions, whether we play cricket elsewhere or hold these trivial tournaments, then so be it. This is how Pakistani cricket will improve in terms of professionalism and more importantly with hunger and passion for the game, which sadly it lacks, both from the players and from the administration.

    Pakistani Supporter (whatever the situation).

  • Shafiq on October 21, 2008, 4:31 GMT

    I d prefer playing in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh as Regional (brother) countries of same nature (crowd, conditions, emotions) over playing in land of Old masters. Well few T20 or ODIs can be played in Old Trafford etc but not Tests.

  • CRICKETEXPERT on October 20, 2008, 9:21 GMT

    I didn't say that Imran Khan isn't allowed to comment on the cricket in Pakistan. I said that theres no need for sad and pathetic people like you to cry about someone being head of PCB when the guy doesn't even want to do it anyway. Why don't you pick someone who is committed to doing the job?

  • what's-in-a-name on October 20, 2008, 3:59 GMT

    Choose this and choose that, but you are fogetting something here my friend, and that is:

    Beggers Can Not Be Choosers

  • Ali Dada on October 20, 2008, 3:22 GMT

    Pakistani team represents Pakistan, not another country. What would we achieve by playing in another country?

    All cricketing venues in Pakistan, including Peshawar are safe to play these days. Alhamdolillah there hasn't been any incident lately. Why do the countries assume it is unsafe to play in Pakistan? How is not unsafe to play in Kenya or in India or in Sri Lanka then? Last time I checked, there have been huge terrorist bombings in Kenya and there are similar problems in India and Sri Lanka.

    If anything, we must not forget our pride. By playing in another country, we are essentially proving to the World that nobody needs to tour Pakistan for short or long term.

    And forget cricket, how about other sports then? How about events and meetings in Pakistan? PCB will set the trend due to its coverage and popularity.

    Honestly, we don't need to be a part of ICC. They can play their cricket in Dubai or XYZ place but Pakistan should leave ICC and start its own league.

  • Martyn on October 18, 2008, 16:23 GMT

    To add to my point earlier (ran out of space, surprisingly) I think Pakistan is perfectly safe for cricketers to tour and that here is no security threat. There is NO WAY anything would be allowed to happen to them as they are so high profile. The targets, if there are any, would be supporters travelling from abroad who don't come with a secuity entourage. The safety of these people is the one that must be considered.

  • Martyn on October 18, 2008, 16:18 GMT

    I think that England playing host to Pakistan's test matches is an excellent idea. Everyone wins! Firstly, the Pakistani players (and supporters) actually get some cricket. Secondly, Britain's large ex-pat community will ensure every ground is full capacity. Thirdly, we in England have too many grounds and not enough matches to fill them -the grounds could take the ticket revenue and the television rights could be sold to ensure that people in Pakistan see the matches, generating revenue but ensuring the game is widely seen. Fourthly, young Pakistan cricketers will develop in English conditions as the County Chamionship is on its doorstep - they could even take the place of the Kolpaks - and the discipline and professionalism in this form of the game will educate the players, preventing a repeat of the Asif incident. Tests could also give England a rest and ensure their schedule isn't overcrowded

    The only downside? It would be an admission that Pakistan is not a safe place to tour.

  • Omer Admani on October 17, 2008, 18:10 GMT

    Test matches are always interesting in England and Pakistanis will have good support. The test matches in the gulf will be dead amid incredible heat and no crowds. England seems to be the only logical place, revenue-wise, and quality-of-cricket wise.

  • FAHD on October 17, 2008, 16:33 GMT

    on another note can someone plz tell me who the hell dropped saeed ajmal and picked shoaib khan in the squad and why was naveed latif in the squad as an opener and not nasir jamshed somebody needs to be held responsible for this stupidity

  • Rauf on October 17, 2008, 10:42 GMT

    To CRICKETEXPERT

    Just because Imran Khan is in politics doesn't mean that he cannot comment on state of Pak cricket or PCB and make suggesstion to improve it. You can disagree with his comments if you like but you cannot discredit him on the basis that he chose a different profession after retirement.

    It's Imran's choice if he wants to head PCB (which will be the best thing since sliced bread) but his suggesstion that next PCB chairman should be elected instead of selected is more valid then suggesting a change in venue to some far off galaxy.

  • fahad khan on October 17, 2008, 4:28 GMT

    Amen Dr Abbasi, I would like to ask very politely to all those who always talks about losing home advantage whenever someone suggests a nuetral venue for us. What homes advantage if there is no cricket to be played at home? Pakistan don't have any competitive away cricket series on ICC FTP which leaves us to play only in Pakistan against SL,IND, ZBW and BD.

    But lets talk about home advantage for the sake of discussion. Pakistan didn't win most of their home series off late against competitive sides. Why? Because usually there is no home crowd advantage since no one shows up in the stadium and secondly often the groudsmen and Pakistan players are usally clueless about the nature of the pitch. Gone were the days when pitches in Pakistan use to favor Pakistani spinners like Qadir, Tauseef and Iqbal Qasim. In the last several years, we have seen poor Kaneria struggling on a supposedly spinner friendly pitches in Pakistan while opposing pacers making lives of our batsmen miserable.

  • waterbuffalo on October 17, 2008, 2:51 GMT

    Pakistan won 5 series' in a row in England from 92 onwards. I believe England would be a magnificent venue, considering the support in Birmingham, Leeds, London, etc, in the World Cup in 99 it was as though Pakistan was playing at home, even when they were playing in Wales. You have the crowds, which would far outsrip the crowds Test Cricket gets in Pakistan, the bowling conditions , which are so much better for pace, swing and seam. I think we could beat anyone in England, even Australia. And don't worry about our batsmen, Saeed Anwar and Salim Malik owned England when we played there, we have tons of players in County Cricket, and Mohd.Yousuf will score a hundred in every Test there. England is not the best alternative. England is the only alternative. The only problem in my mind is whether the English and the ICC will help us out. Because, quite frankly, there is no love lost between England and Pakistan for reasons too obvious for me to state

  • Sameer on October 16, 2008, 23:44 GMT

    I dont really care where we play.... pakistan just needs cricket, we desperately need some real TEST cricket.

    pakistan has not played a test for sooooo long, this way, it will only deteriorate. we need tests to get back into cricket.

  • ALI on October 16, 2008, 23:18 GMT

    I personally don't prefer England as a venue for Pakistan cricket matches. Pakistan will be losing the home advantage. Furthermore, the cricket fans in Pakistan would be highly disappointed. I think Pakistan must play their home series in Pakistan not somewhere else.

  • CRICKETEXPERT on October 16, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    This comment is for Rauf

    In case you haven't noticed Imran Khan has gone into politics now. so stop crying about electing him as head of PCB. Why appoint someone who doesn't want to do the job himself anyway?

  • PakistanLover on October 16, 2008, 17:20 GMT

    Why should we play in England of all places? They wish to destory Pakistani cricket! The only grounds that are acceptable are in the Middle East or India/Sri lanka. Forget the white nations, they wish to destory Pakistani Cricket.

  • Rauf on October 16, 2008, 14:21 GMT

    Change venue to England? Why not Sweden... heck why not Paraguay. We can find Pak embassy staff there to fill the seats. While we are changing venue for cricket team, why not change venue for all those Pak fans who cannot afford a TV or travel abroad.

    Please stop coming up with pathetic alternatives to work around equally pathetic restrictions imposed on Pak by non Asian boards. What good is Pak test match when less then 10% of Pakistanis can view it via any medium. Change the venue and you will turn off the average Pak cricket fan for good... including myself.

    Change the PCB from top down instead. Elect the next chairman like Imran Khan suggested. Change the PCB culture of hanging onto BCCI for their dear lives. I don't mind Pak cricket isolation for few years as long as we fix the internal problems for good and show others that we can hold our own. Begging bowl will help in short term only.

  • Gokul on October 16, 2008, 13:46 GMT

    One alternative (potentially controversial) would be for Pak players to play as guests in other test teams (with ICC approval). This can go on for 2-3 years or until pakistan stabilizes politically. That way the players will remain in form and be ready to play for Pakistan when the time comes.

  • Ishtiaq on October 16, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    I think in case of neutral venue Dubai/Sharjah would be the best options. They will provide home like conditions (crowd,grounds etc.).

  • Sunny_Aego on October 16, 2008, 3:38 GMT

    This 'Pakistan playing in England' bit is just England's desperate attempt to stay relevant in the cricketing world. They just want another revenue source to try and keep up with BCCI.

  • EAMiran on October 16, 2008, 2:04 GMT

    Watching Pakistan playing in "neutral" England would be better than watching them play in India, Sri lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai, and even Pakistan itself, where the pitches are as lively as Makkli at midnight. Some, if not most, of our batsmen will find it difficult going on seaming pitches, but as someone else suggested our pacers might relish the opportunity.

  • Aussie Din ks on October 16, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    As an Aussie I don't see what is neutral about England if you must give it to any one give it please to some one like Bangladesh,Canada,Kenya,Ireland or Holland that makes it more neutral don't you think.

  • Flash Ash on October 15, 2008, 22:47 GMT

    Pakistan losing Home advantage?? Forget the negative, what about Pakistan Batsmen getting more regular exposure to different conditions, surely those with the talent can only improve? Many of the Pakistan Bowlers would relish bowling at Australia at Headingly in May/June!! Who would have home advantage then in terms of the crowd? it would be a sell-out, not only with Pakistan supporters but Poms gagging to see Australia Humbled!! The mind boggles!!

    Although the ICC may not allow it as it may not preceive UK as a "neutral" venue, but then why should it be neutral if security or whatever perceived risk stops a "Home" game/tour then shouldn't the alternative offer at least some advantage to the "Home" side? Ask Ulmar Gul et al I'm sure they'd be happy to try ECB grounds more regularly.

    Don't forget, some of Pakistans best victories have been on English Grounds!!

  • adil on October 15, 2008, 20:21 GMT

    i agree bring back pakistani entertainment get the blood flowing

  • nadeem on October 15, 2008, 20:12 GMT

    I am not very excited with pak playing on neutral venue in general and England in particular.Pak lose their home advantage playing in england (the weather,ground, crowds etc).Secondly instead of choosing a neutral venue and going for a short term solution why not diagnose the fundamental Political and social issues Pak faces today.The shortsighted approach of its political and military heirarchy got pak in a complete mess and same goes to its cricketing bureaucracy.Muslims are bound by the bondage of brotherhood,but a paki cricketer perfectly represents and reflect the muslim mindset today in pakistan and around the world.We muslims fight amongst ourselves more than we do with others. We try to downplay and degrade (often accuse) other muslims. Same goes in pak cricket we hear former cricketers accusing each other and washing dirty linen in public.What pak needs today is true human beings,true muslims who are true professionals.This would lead pakistan to glory as team and nation

  • Omer Adhia on October 15, 2008, 19:24 GMT

    Yes Kamran, lets play in England and forgo our home advantage. Can you imagine players like Salman Butt, Shoaib Khan playing under over cast conditions in England. It would be a disaster. Dubai is a more viable option, if we are forced to play on a neutral venue. Lets face it , we don't have the quality for winning test matches anyways so we should just concentrate on winning T20s and ODIs for now.

  • Alok on October 15, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    It will also give Indian cricket fans (such as yours truly) a chance to support a Pakistani team in test cricket. Obviously Pakistan are going to be the underdogs in England.

  • Gaurav Kapoor on October 15, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    Why not on the lines of Sahara Cup in late nineties? Pakistan team has given great talents to the world and its sad them being sidelined due to politics.

    Pakistan can hold series in India/Sri lanka where they would not miss the home advantage too much as conditions are similar in subcontinent. Money can be shared between boards.

    Why not Bangladesh? I am sure Pakistan has great fan following in Bangladesh!!

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  • Gaurav Kapoor on October 15, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    Why not on the lines of Sahara Cup in late nineties? Pakistan team has given great talents to the world and its sad them being sidelined due to politics.

    Pakistan can hold series in India/Sri lanka where they would not miss the home advantage too much as conditions are similar in subcontinent. Money can be shared between boards.

    Why not Bangladesh? I am sure Pakistan has great fan following in Bangladesh!!

  • Alok on October 15, 2008, 19:05 GMT

    It will also give Indian cricket fans (such as yours truly) a chance to support a Pakistani team in test cricket. Obviously Pakistan are going to be the underdogs in England.

  • Omer Adhia on October 15, 2008, 19:24 GMT

    Yes Kamran, lets play in England and forgo our home advantage. Can you imagine players like Salman Butt, Shoaib Khan playing under over cast conditions in England. It would be a disaster. Dubai is a more viable option, if we are forced to play on a neutral venue. Lets face it , we don't have the quality for winning test matches anyways so we should just concentrate on winning T20s and ODIs for now.

  • nadeem on October 15, 2008, 20:12 GMT

    I am not very excited with pak playing on neutral venue in general and England in particular.Pak lose their home advantage playing in england (the weather,ground, crowds etc).Secondly instead of choosing a neutral venue and going for a short term solution why not diagnose the fundamental Political and social issues Pak faces today.The shortsighted approach of its political and military heirarchy got pak in a complete mess and same goes to its cricketing bureaucracy.Muslims are bound by the bondage of brotherhood,but a paki cricketer perfectly represents and reflect the muslim mindset today in pakistan and around the world.We muslims fight amongst ourselves more than we do with others. We try to downplay and degrade (often accuse) other muslims. Same goes in pak cricket we hear former cricketers accusing each other and washing dirty linen in public.What pak needs today is true human beings,true muslims who are true professionals.This would lead pakistan to glory as team and nation

  • adil on October 15, 2008, 20:21 GMT

    i agree bring back pakistani entertainment get the blood flowing

  • Flash Ash on October 15, 2008, 22:47 GMT

    Pakistan losing Home advantage?? Forget the negative, what about Pakistan Batsmen getting more regular exposure to different conditions, surely those with the talent can only improve? Many of the Pakistan Bowlers would relish bowling at Australia at Headingly in May/June!! Who would have home advantage then in terms of the crowd? it would be a sell-out, not only with Pakistan supporters but Poms gagging to see Australia Humbled!! The mind boggles!!

    Although the ICC may not allow it as it may not preceive UK as a "neutral" venue, but then why should it be neutral if security or whatever perceived risk stops a "Home" game/tour then shouldn't the alternative offer at least some advantage to the "Home" side? Ask Ulmar Gul et al I'm sure they'd be happy to try ECB grounds more regularly.

    Don't forget, some of Pakistans best victories have been on English Grounds!!

  • Aussie Din ks on October 16, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    As an Aussie I don't see what is neutral about England if you must give it to any one give it please to some one like Bangladesh,Canada,Kenya,Ireland or Holland that makes it more neutral don't you think.

  • EAMiran on October 16, 2008, 2:04 GMT

    Watching Pakistan playing in "neutral" England would be better than watching them play in India, Sri lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai, and even Pakistan itself, where the pitches are as lively as Makkli at midnight. Some, if not most, of our batsmen will find it difficult going on seaming pitches, but as someone else suggested our pacers might relish the opportunity.

  • Sunny_Aego on October 16, 2008, 3:38 GMT

    This 'Pakistan playing in England' bit is just England's desperate attempt to stay relevant in the cricketing world. They just want another revenue source to try and keep up with BCCI.

  • Ishtiaq on October 16, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    I think in case of neutral venue Dubai/Sharjah would be the best options. They will provide home like conditions (crowd,grounds etc.).