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May 15, 2009
The summer of 2010 in the UK may turn out to be a Pakistani summer, as the PCB is involved in negotiations with various boards that could result in them playing six Tests in England next year and nearly ten limited-overs internationals.
The Pakistan board is already in discussions with Cricket Australia and the ECB to 'host' a series against Australia in England next year, which now consists of two Tests and two Twenty20 internationals. Pakistan are now also in the running to replace West Indies next year as England's opponents for a four-Test series.
"Ijaz Butt [PCB chairman] has met Giles Clarke [ECB chairman] and negotiations are underway for a series of four Tests, five ODIs and two twenty20s," Salim Altaf, PCB chief operating officer, told Cricinfo. "As West Indies has toured this year for two Tests, filling in for Sri Lanka, their slot for next year may now be empty so we are in a position to fill it."
David Collier, the chief executive of the ECB, also confirmed that discussions were taking place. "We all recognise that Pakistan are having an issue at the moment, in terms of being able to stage home matches," Collier said. "If we can get this sort of [neutral] event, that does help them.
"I think we've got a broader responsibility to the global game. We are one of the few countries that has a number of international grounds and they (the venues) are desperate for content."
Pakistan tours England, on average, every four to five years and last visited in 2006, a series it lost 3-0. As a touring team, Pakistan have always been popular, attracting big crowds, especially from the large British Asian communities in various cities throughout England.
England, in fact, is in the running along with the UAE, to become a home away from home for Pakistan. Since the turn of the century, teams from outside the subcontinent have been hesitant to tour Pakistan. The situation has become progressively worse over the last few years and the March terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore has all but ruled out international cricket in Pakistan in the near future.
Clarke is keen on getting Pakistan to play its neutral Tests in England and the idea has the backing of Ehsan Mani, former ICC president, and a long-time advisor to the PCB. "In the choice for neutral venues, I think England is an almost perfect option," Mani told Cricinfo.
"Pakistan has a huge following there, there is a cricket infrastructure in place, the grounds and facilities are brilliant and the whole cricket culture is vibrant there. England would be a very good as a neutral venue."
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