Pakistan news January 5, 2009

Ijaz Butt hopeful of hosting Australia

Cricinfo staff

Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 due to security issues © AFP
Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, has reiterated that Pakistan's priority is to host Australia's tour in their home country but admits that a neutral venue remains a possibility.

Butt also said that he and chief operating officer Saleem Altaf had not visited the facilities in the Kuala Lumpur last week after reports that they had inspected the ground follow a meeting at the Asian Cricket Council headquarters.

"The PCB and myself have not had any discussions with the Australians on playing the coming one-day series in Malaysia. Neither did I visit any such proposed venues," Butt told PTI. "The priority is that Australia tours Pakistan and they have also conveyed to us they would like to play the series in Pakistan as they have not visited Pakistan since 1998.

"The Australians will, as the tour approaches, carry out normal security checks and take advice from their foreign office and security consultants," Butt added. "But we are pushing them to play in Pakistan and be assured we will provide them the top security for the one-day series."

However, Butt said the option of playing the series at a neutral venue remained on the table if Australia were unhappy with the security situation. "The options are there but they have not been discussed specifically as yet with the Australian cricket officials."

Cricket Australia 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. They were due to visit in March 2008 but pulled out with security concerns.

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.