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Friday, December 3, 2010

China likely to be Pakistan's neutral sports venue for cricket

Cricket Board (PCB) is considering China as a neutral venue for its international cricket events as the foreign teams are not willing to visit Pakistan due to security threats, sources told Xinhua on Friday.
According to PCB sources, Pakistan’s former captain and legendary batsman Javed Miandad presented a written report suggesting the board management to take special steps to finalize China as a neutral venue for international cricket matches.
“We should take immediate and solid steps to decide this issue soon before the time passes away,” warned Miandad, PCB director and Pakistan’s cricket ambassador to China.
The future of cricket is very bright in China, a country with a big population, said Miandad, adding that Pakistan should help China technically to establish cricket infrastructure and new stadia. He also suggested sending a group of former players as a coaching team to China to train the Chinese youth.
Cricket is the most famous game in Pakistan but the countrymen could not have a single chance to watch any cricket match in their home grounds since March 2009. The foreign cricket teams refused to visit Pakistan after March 3, 2009 when some unknown terrorist ambushed the bus of Sri Lankan cricketers on their way to ground for a match in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore. Attackers tried to kidnap the bus but driver controlled the nerves and luckily drove away the bus from the site safely. At least eight people including six policemen were killed in cross firing. Besides many Pakistanis, seven Sri Lankan players were also injured in the attack. The Sri Lankan team canceled its tour and went back to Colombo on the very next available flight.
Pakistan was the co—host of the cricket world cup 2011 along with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka but in the wake of the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team and refusal from teams, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to strip Pakistan of its hosting rights.
Pakistan was supposed to hold 14 matches, including one semi-final but now eight of Pakistan’s matches have been awarded to India, four to Sri Lanka and two to Bangladesh.
With this decision PCB lost the revenue of millions of dollars and also an opportunity to boost up cricket culture in the country.
Seeing all these matters and predicting future problems, PCB started to think on the lines to have a secure, reliable and permanent neutral venue.
Sources revealed that as a first attempt to work on these lines Pakistan would put its weight on the Chinese side on Dec. 12 in Dhaka where China would make a bid to host the 2012 Asia Cup in Guangzhou, the venue that hosted the first-ever Asian Games cricket tournament in November.
If China succeeds to get the hosting rights of the event, it will be the first major international cricket event in China. And Pakistani authorities said giving the Asian Cricket Cup hosting rights to China will make the rout clear to announce its neutral venue.
Syed Ashraful Haq, chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), also confirmed that the Chinese Cricket Association had “expressed its interest” in hosting the 2012 Asia Cup.
“If our ACC board agrees, China will have its first full-fledged, major international tournament,” Haq told Cricinfo, a famous cricket website.
The ACC board will meet on Dec. 12 in Dhaka to decide the venue for the Asia Cup among Guangzhou, Dhaka and either Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
“If you ask me where it should go, I don’t know. My board would have to decide but it would be good if it is played in a non-traditional place to enhance the profile of the place and to boost up cricket awareness,” Haq added.
ACC authorities will also consider taking cricket out of traditional venues to new markets or new areas.
Ijaz Butt, PCB chairman, praised the quality of grounds and facilities provided in the cricket stadium in China.
According to sources, Butt had been astonished by the quality of the ground and facilities provided in the cricket stadium in China and expressed his wish to make a venue for one of Pakistan’s offshore international games.
“PCB is planning to arrange its Test matches in first phase,” sources said.
T20 international cricket tournament in the Asian Games was held at the Guangdong University of Technology, where the ground has an 80-meter boundary and seven pitches which suits international standards.
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