Tri-series plans still in the air
Negotiations are still underway for a tri-series tournament in South Africa, involving Pakistan and potentially Sri Lanka, as Pakistan continues to find ways to fill a depleted international calendar.
Though talk of the series has been rife since the Champions Trophy - originally scheduled to be held in Pakistan from September 12 - was finally postponed at the end of last month, progress in bringing it about has been slow.
The PCB's international cricket committee met today to review the situation arising from the postponement and discussed several options for Pakistan. Time, though, is against Pakistan as realistically, most teams have international commitments from October 1 and any commitment has to be arranged before then. The committee discussed the South Africa tri-series proposal as well as alternatives within and outside Pakistan.
"They [Cricket South Africa] are still looking at various commercial options and opportunities for the series," Shafqat Naghmi, chief operating officer, told Cricinfo. "The situation will be clearer once the commercial viability of the proposal is assessed."
It is believed that the PCB, eager for the series to go ahead, has offered to help CSA in trying to attract a broadcaster as well as sponsors. As of now, however, no dates are confirmed and neither is the availability of Sri Lanka just yet.
The Champions Trophy postponement left Pakistan with their second big gap in the year, after Australia refused to tour in March-April, also due to security concerns. Board officials are privately concerned at the lack of matches in Pakistan, not just because of the effect it has on the development of the side, but also the financial pressures.
Though neither the Australia tour nor the Champions Trophy have been written off as losses, some estimates suggest the PCB was looking to earn US$7 million from each series. "It isn't just that this team needs to play to learn more and develop. Financially it is very important that we just play," one official present at the meeting today told Cricinfo.
Pakistan will not play a single Test this year and have played most of their ODIs against weaker teams such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Members of the current administration have long been unhappy with their predecessors, who, under Shaharyar Khan's tenure, negotiated such a lopsided Future Tours Programme (FTP) last time round. "We were left with very few commitments for this year and that is something we must address when the next FTP cycle is finalised," the official said.
Naghmi will now meet the governing board during the second week of September for approval of any potential assignments.