Pakistan news January 4, 2009

Australia wants proposed tour in Pakistan

Cricinfo staff

Pakistan are scheduled to host Australia twice this year - the first of which will include five ODIs and a Twenty20 match © Getty Images

Cricket Australia has reiterated its preference to have the proposed tour of Pakistan in the country itself, after reports claimed that the PCB was planning to stage the postponed series, originally scheduled for March 2008, at a neutral venue.

Australia had pulled out citing security concerns, following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. However, CA has promised to tour Pakistan on two separate occasions in 2009, the first of which has been planned for April, and will include five ODIs and a Twenty20 match.

Reports in Pakistan, though, suggested that the board had begun plans to stage the matches in Kuala Lumpur fearing another pullout by CA. Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, and chief operating officer Saleem Altaf are believed to have visited the facilities in the Malaysian capital last week after attending a meeting at the Asian Cricket Council headquarters.

CA spokesman Peter Young said he was not privy to the plans outlined in the reports. He said any tour of Pakistan would again be subject to a security assessment and he indicated Australia were eager to tour Pakistan, where they haven't played since 1998.

"I am not aware of the PCB's plans and at this stage," he told PA Sport. "All I can say is that we are very, very keen to play Pakistan at the scheduled time and are looking forward to doing so, subject to the normal safety and security criteria that apply whenever we play anywhere."

The PCB had turned down the offer to stage the matches at a neutral venue when CA initially expressed their reluctance to tour last year. The two teams have already played Tests in Sri Lanka and Sharjah in 2002, and CA chief executive James Sutherland said last March that the option of another neutral series had been discussed.

"Playing at a neutral venue was one of the options that was certainly put on the table," Sutherland said. "But at the end of the day that is something for the Pakistan Cricket Board because it's their tour and we certainly sympathise with their position in that they desperately want the tour to go ahead in Pakistan."

Pakistan didn't play a Test in 2008 and their hosting of the Champions Trophy in September was also postponed after some of the participating nations expressed concerns over security conditions. India have also cancelled their tour of Pakistan, which was scheduled to start from January 6, in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai.