September 14, 2001

PCB hoping for shortened tour by Kiwis

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Wednesday said it would like the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) to confirm inside 10 days if they were ready to come for an shortened tour.

A spokesman of the PCB clarified that it was not a deadline but only a time frame which could allow the host board to finalize the arrangements.

"NZC is requested to monitor and review the situation quickly to help put the tour back on track. Naturally, the abbreviated tour has to conclude before Oct 25 as Pakistan is committed to play in Sharjah on Oct 27," the spokesman said.

The tri-nation series in Sharjah begins Oct 27 with Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka as the other participating nations. The Black Caps are scheduled to arrive in Australia on Nov 1 where the first Test begins Nov 8.

Although the spokesman refused to reveal details of the abbreviated tour, insiders said if conditions remained normal and NZC decided to send its team, a two-Test and three-match one-day series would be played.

"The Peshawar Test and Rawalpindi three-dayer will be scrapped while Faisalabad Test will be shifted to Lahore. In the revamped schedule, there will be 16 playing days (including a threedayer). This implies that the tour can be completed in three weeks if the rest days are added," the sources said.

In practical purposes, the tour can still conclude on Oct 24 even if it begins Oct 1. This means New Zealand have more than two weeks to assess the situation arising from Tuesday's tragic events in Washington and New York.

According to the International Cricket Council (ICC) ruling, a two- Test series will be eligible for distribution of points for the World Test Championship. Similarly, the one-dayers are equally important as the rankings of the 2003 World Cup will be based on team's world standings in the matches played till Oct 1.

"It is the first day of the crisis following New Zealand's temporarily postponement of the tour. We will certainly consider various options that will be available," the spokesman said.

Continuing with the training camp or releasing the players to appear in domestic first-class competition starting Sept 21 or requesting the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) to wrap up the Test championship before Pakistan proceeds to the desert city are the options under consideration.

"NZC chief executive was reassured that the situation in Pakistan with respect to security and playing the game are safe," PCB director Brig Munawar Rana said in a statement.

The statement added: "The PCB regrets the situation which is well beyond its own control and held out an assurance to all the organizers of the series that their interests are as safe as can be reasonably expected."

Rana, when contacted by Dawn in Lahore, said he has informed the International Cricket Council (ICC) that there were no security concerns in Pakistan. The executive board of the ICC is scheduled to meet at Lahore between Oct 14 and 19 which will be followed up by a two-day ACC meeting on Oct 20 and 21.

"I called Mal Speed today and confirmed him that next month's meeting was on as far as Pakistan was concerned," he said.

Ironically, Pakistan had volunteered to host the meeting after Sri Lanka had refused to host in the backdrop of security concerns. It would be interesting to see if NZC chief executive and former Test pacer Martin Snedden attends the summit.

It is for the second time in 11 years that an international team has been forced to cancel or postpone its tour to Pakistan because of security fears. In 1990-91, England A returned without playing a match when Gulf War broke. In 1984-85, India returned mid-way on tour when prime minister Indra Gandhi was assassinated.