Pakistan news October 28, 2008

West Indies call off Abu Dhabi Tests

Cricinfo staff

Abu Dhabi will host only the three one-dayers between Pakistan and West Indies in November © Cricinfo Ltd

The proposed Test series between West Indies and Pakistan, planned originally for Abu Dhabi in November, will not be going ahead, after West Indies cited problems in their schedule. The decision leaves Pakistan with no Test cricket this year, despite repeated efforts by the board in the recent months to slot them in.

"The West Indies board have informed us that they cannot go ahead with the series," Salim Altaf, the Pakistan Cricket Board's director-general, told Cricinfo.

Had it gone ahead, the two-Test series would have taken place after the three ODIs between the two countries at the same venue in mid-November. The short amount of time left between now and then, however, turned out to be a hurdle.

"Their board said there wasn't enough time for them to negotiate touring terms for players with the WIPA (West Indies Player Association)," Altaf said. "They also have to go to New Zealand soon after, so the schedule would have been a bit hectic for them."

Dr Donald Peters, the WICB CEO, while making the announcement said the possibility of playing two Test matches against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi was explored by both boards but such an arrangement could not be put in place.

"There was a proposal to play two Tests matches against Pakistan, also in Abu Dhabi, but logistically this proved too difficult for us, so we had to decline that request," he said. "The team will have a camp in New Zealand as part of the build-up for what will be a very important tour. This will allow them to get fully acclimatized to the conditions."

Even if West Indies had agreed to the Tests, the financial benefits for a cash-strapped Pakistan board would have been questionable. The postponement of the Australia home series and the Champions Trophy due to security concerns has hurt Pakistan badly. Organising the series with West Indies, a board official revealed to Cricinfo, would have cost roughly US$2 million.

Whether that would have been recovered, let alone a profit made, is doubtful. Few TV broadcasters were interested in a series on neutral territory with little spectator interest. One local sports channel, said the official, offered "the grand sum of US$40,000 to broadcast the series." Though playing Tests might have helped the team, "commercially it just wasn't very viable for us," the official said. Local reports also suggested that the amount the West Indies board had asked for as payment for what would be, in effect, a home series for Pakistan, wasn't something the PCB could afford.

However, Altaf revealed that the boards had agreed to talk again in Dubai in December to try and fit the tour in to the Future Tours Programme. "That is a positive thing. We will meet again and hopefully we can organise this series at a more suitable date."

While West Indies will play two Tests, two Twenty20 Internationals and five ODIs from December 5 to January 13, Pakistan's next scheduled Test assignment is the home series against India starting in January.