England tour of Pakistan still on

England's tour of Pakistan is still on despite Saturday's earthquake which left tens of thousands dead.

The England board (ECB) has been liaising with its Pakistan counterparts (PCB) as well as the two governments over the weekend. "We send our condolences to the Pakistani people who have been affected by the earthquake," Colin Gibson, the ECB's communications director, told the BBC. "At this stage there is no indication the tour is in any doubt or the tour schedule affected in any way."

"At this stage the tour is on," Pakistan daily Dawn quoted Asad Mustafa, the PCB's logistics manager as saying. "We are hopeful that, God willing, everything on the tour front will be sorted out by the time England land in Rawalpindi."

A PCB official also revealed that both boards were considering the idea of fund-raising matches to help victims of the disaster. Abbas Zaidi, PCB Director, told AFP, "The tour will not be hit by the quake, instead the ECB has conveyed us to find ways to raise funds through cricket matches. Both boards are discussing ways and means to help the victims in this need of hour.

"The cricket world is sad over the loss of so many lives in Pakistan and the ECB has shown its concerns and we are planning to dedicate a one-day match in Lahore to raise funds for the victims.

Saturday's earthquake is now thought to have killed up to 40,000 people, flattening whole towns in northern Pakistan.

Zaidi added, "All the cricket playing countries are also worried and there was a minute's silence at the ICC (International Cricket Council) meeting in Sydney, Australia on Monday and ICC is actively planning to raise funds."

Zaidi said the Shaharyar Khan, PCB chairman, will meet his England counterpart David Morgan in Sydney and will discuss the matter further. The PCB official said there are also plans to hold an international fund raising match for the quake victims.

"Cricket is followed by everyone in Pakistan and it will get their minds off this tragedy," Rameez Raja, a former chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board told the BBC. "Cricket can be a healer."

England are due to arrive in Pakistan on 26 October and their first match takes place at Rawalpindi on October 31, an area within the earthquake zone. The final two ODIs, on December 19 and 21, are also scheduled to take place there.