Pakistan limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has said his country risks running out of neutral venues if there is no resolution to the stand-off between the PCB and the ECB following the fractious series between the two teams that concluded recently.
“The Pakistan board should try to take steps to normalise relations with the ECB because Pakistan cricket needs the support of other nations at this stage,” Afridi told the Geo Super TV channel. “If our relations with ECB don’t improve the options available to us to play at neutral venues would be reduced and this is not good for us.”
Pakistan’s tour of England was riven by controversy following a News of the World sting alleging that Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt had conspired to bowl no-balls on demand during the final Test at Lord’s. The ICC provisionally suspended the three players, and also launched an investigation into the third ODI at The Oval after receiving information that bookies were aware of certain scoring patterns during the game.
The PCB chairman Ijaz Butt then launched an extraordinary attack, pointing a finger at England’s batsmen for their batting collapse in the game. The ECB has plans to pursue legal action against Ijaz Butt unless he makes a public apology, something he has so far refused to do.
Pakistan have not hosted international cricket since the terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, and the spat with England could rob them of a viable alternate venue for home games.
“I think in the existing circumstances, when Pakistan cricket is going through tough times, we should make the best use of the neutral venues available to us,” said Afridi.