Pakistan news December 31, 2012

Zaka Ashraf reacts sternly to Bangladesh delaying tour

Zaka Ashraf, the PCB chairman, has expressed annoyance at the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) decision to put their proposed tour of Pakistan on hold a second time. He reacted aggressively, saying that Pakistan will 'reconsider' its bilateral ties with Bangladesh after the BCB, once again, backed down from going ahead with the tour. Pakistan, he said, will not sacrifice their interests for those who do not honour their words.

The PCB, Ashraf said, had not forced Bangladesh to tour. "If they don't want to come its their own decision and we didn't force them," Zaka told ESPNcricinfo. Bangladesh, he said, had confirmed the tour to the PCB and the ICC "three times and still they backed off. Now their own reputation is at stake. If they don't want to respect their bilateral relationship then we will also respond in the same manner."

The most immediate consequences of this breakdown of relations between the two boards over the controversial tour, will be felt at the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) that will begin on January 18. The BPL is clashing with the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier first-class event. ESPNcricinfo understands that the PCB is unlikely to release most of their top players - Umar Gul, Kamran Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Mohammad Sami, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Imran Nazir and Wahab Riaz were all signed up at the league's 2013 auction - for the BPL.

"We will take a principled stance on the BPL," Ashraf said. "But one thing is sure: our players might not be free as we are making our own arrangements from next year." He said that PCB-related commitments may occupy most of the players' time and that "they may not be bothered for other things".

The PCB had begun its preparations for an impending tour after getting a positive response from the BCB. Tenders had gone out, inviting sponsorship bids for a series title sponsor, two co-sponsors and in-stadia advertising rights for two international matches (one ODI and one T20). The PCB has also moved the domestic first-class Quaid-e-Azam matches, scheduled between January 7 and 22 away from the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore to accommodate the proposed matches against Bangladesh.

Ashraf said it was "almost confirmed" that Bangladesh would tour Pakistan, but found it "strange" that they had pulled out from their commitment. The PCB's efforts to revive international cricket in Pakistan, according to Ashraf, was on track: "Soon we will manage to get a better team to tour Pakistan than Bangladesh."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent