In what they term as a major breakthrough, Pakistani cricket officials have managed to fill in the blanks in their Future Tour Programme (FTP) by lining up 38 one-day internationals against some of the world's leading teams over the next few years.
A top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told The News that after a series of meetings with leading cricket officials of various Test-playing nations and some extensive lobbying, the PCB has fixed ample number of one-day Internationals against five of the top sides between 2008-2010.
The games are in addition to the Tests and ODIs Pakistan are scheduled to play under the International Cricket Council's FTP."It is a major breakthrough," Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's chief operating officer, said from Kuala Lumpur. "Our team had a slim international schedule over the next few years but we have managed to fill it up by finalising over three dozen matches against some of the world's top teams."
Naghmi said the matches have been arranged against South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West Indies. In his opinion the ICC short-changed Pakistan when it drew up the five-year FTP in 2004.
"It was really a frustrating situation for us," Naghmi said. "I mean our team had no international commitment after playing a series against India later this year for almost the next 10 months."
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Australia's forthcoming tour of Pakistan, with the latest news being that the visitors want the trip shortened. The PCB expects the ICC to help convince Australia, who have expressed concern over touring Pakistan for three Tests and five ODIs because of security reason, to tour next month.
Naghmi pointed out that after hosting India, Pakistan had to wait till November 2009 to play their next Test (against Australia in Australia). The PCB had targeted an ICC moot that is under progress in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the next FTP, with the goal being to convince other boards to help out.
Before going to Kuala Lumpur, Naghmi and other PCB officials visited India and Sri Lanka in a bid to fill in their FTP gaps. Apart from lining up further ODIs Pakistan have also convinced India to revive a three-nation series that was earlier scrapped because of a hectic schedule. Pakistan, India and hosts Bangladesh will clash in the tri-series in June ahead of the 2008 Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in Pakistan later that month.
Naghmi said that New Zealand have agreed to visit Pakistan to play five ODIs in September. Next June, Pakistan will play a tri-nation series in the Caribbean after which West Indies will visit for a return series. Pakistan have also tied up a home-and-away series against Sri Lanka next year. South Africa will also play a five-match ODI series in Pakistan next year.
Pakistan were unable to add any more Tests to their current FTP.