LAHORE – Pakistan’s cricket chief Monday proposed a limited over series against rivals India at neutral venues to overcome huge financial losses due to security problems in the country.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt said annual losses of 71 percent were incurred on television rights and other areas as teams refused to tour the country over security fears amid a Taliban insurgency.
“We have been incurring 71 percent annual losses due to relocation and cancellation of cricket series in the country, and a limited over series against India can help us overcome these losses,” Butt told a press conference.
He said Pakistan had suffered a total loss of 125 million dollars since teams began refusing to tour the country in 2008.
“We lost some 40 million dollars due to the cancellation of the India series last year and this huge loss can only be covered if we play India, even on neutral venues,” said Butt.
New Delhi refused to clear a tour of its cricket team to Pakistan scheduled for earlier this year after the militant attacks on Mumbai in November 2008, which Indian authorities blamed on a Pakistan-based extremist group.
Pakistan’s chances of hosting international cricket were dealt a severe blow in March this year when the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked in Lahore.
Eight people were killed and seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach were injured.
The attacks forced the International Cricket Council (ICC) to strip Pakistan of its share of World Cup 2011 matches.
Even before the Lahore attacks foreign teams had refused to tour Pakistan, forcing them to play their home series at neutral venues such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“We have been forced to play our series away from home and I toured India last month to convince them to play us on neutral venues. If they agree we can arrange that,” said Butt.
The ICC is also considering India-Pakistan matches in England, where Pakistan has relocated a home Test series against Australia later this year.
Butt and other PCB officials attended an ICC task force meeting in Dubai Sunday to discuss possible solutions for reviving cricket in Pakistan.
“We also request the ICC to form funds for us to help our domestic and junior cricket,” said Butt, also hoping Pakistan will be able to bid for the 2013 Champions Trophy.
“If the opportunity arises then we may bid for the Champions Trophy because we have a right to do so,” said Butt.
The task force includes the ICC General Manager of Cricket, David Richardson, former international captains Mike Brearley of England and Rameez Raja of Pakistan, and Ranjan Madugalle from the elite panel of ICC match referees. – AFP