Future Tours Programme September 19, 2009

India open to playing Pakistan in neutral venues - PCB

Cricinfo staff

Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, has said that India are open to playing bilateral series at neutral venues, and that the ICC has agreed to factor it in in its Future Tours Programme (FTP) post 2012.

The PCB had earlier complained that the original FTP excluded India-Pakistan Test tours because of the Indian government's decision to put bilateral tours on hold after India's scheduled tour of Pakistan last year was called off.

"It is natural that governments of both countries will have to approve any cricket series but there have been efforts to revive Indo-Pak cricket and India has shown interest in playing on neutral venues," Butt told AFP.

"We have received a fresh draft of the FTP which is two blocks of four years each, from 2012 to 2016 and to 2020. In it we have Tests, one-dayers and Twenty20 matches with India."

The terror attacks in Mumbai in November jeopardised India's tour of Pakistan and relations between the two countries. The Indian government directed the BCCI to call off the tour alleging that Pakistan were involved in those attacks. Pakistan cricket was jolted again in March when the touring Sri Lankans were attacked when travelling in the team bus in Lahore in the middle of a Test match. With teams refusing to tour the country in the immediate future, the PCB has explored the option of playing in neutral venues and Butt said that India was welcome to the idea.

Butt added that the FTP will be on the agenda when the board meets with the ICC next month in South Africa. "We need a busy FTP in order to survive and playing against India is the top priority, and that's why we demanded changes in the FTP," Butt said.

Pakistan and India last played a bilateral series in 2007-08 in India, with the hosts winning the Test and ODI series. India last toured Pakistan in 2005-06, losing the Tests 1-0 and winning the ODIs 4-1. The teams have never played a Test at a neutral venue.