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England likely 'home' for Pakistan

CRICKET Australia wants to foster bilateral series with Pakistan in England and the Arabian Gulf in the wake of a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

Australia has not sent a test team to Pakistan since 1998.

Cricket Australia public affairs manager Peter Young said yesterday negotiations were underway with the Pakistan Cricket Board about playing a three-test series in England in 2010, a move apparently welcomed by the British government.

The Australians had already announced in the wake of Tuesday's attacks that a five-match limited-overs series against Pakistan starting next month in the United Arab Emirates would likely go ahead with added security.

"We are talking to the Pakistan Cricket Board...about playing test cricket in 2010," Young said. "We were due to play three test in Pakistan, but we determined some time ago we weren't able to go there.

"It's a matter for the PCB to come up with a venue and one of the possibilities that has emerged is England."

British Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe suggested that Pakistan could play its home games in England after the International Cricket Council conceded it was unlikely any international matches would be played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future.

"I want to make sure that the sport in general, and cricket in Pakistan in particular, does not lose out. We could offer Pakistan a temporary home here. Most of the players play here in the county game already."

Young said Australia wanted Pakistan's scheduled tour Down Under to go ahead in the next southern summer, playing down comments by ex-Pakistani cricketers that invitations would be withdrawn because of a perceived security risk revolving around the Pakistan team.

"There's no risk of that from an Australian point of view," Young said. "We're hoping to welcome them here in this summer."

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat encouraged Pakistan to look abroad for venues and said a review of its position as co-host with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for the 2011 World Cup would be undertaken.

"It's better Pakistan chooses to play cricket in neutral venues than not at all," Lorgat said. "We should encourage the game to continue."

New Zealand is also likely to call off its December tour.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said his organization had made an immediate decision to cancel the tour but later moderated his position and suggested New Zealand was prepared to discuss security issues with Pakistan.

"Player safety and security is of paramount importance," he said.

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has already indicated players would likely be opposed to touring in the current security climate.

"You can't say cricket won't take place in Asia. It would kill the game because four of the eight countries we play serious cricket against are based out of there," Vaughan said.

"Player security is something we won't compromise on, but in terms of how and when events are scheduled in that region, I guess we got to think pretty long and hard."


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