Australia willing to play Pak Tests at neutral venue

Published: Thursday, August 15, 2002, 0:04 [IST]
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Sydney: The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) wants to play Pakistan in October at a neutral venue rather than have the series postponed, chief executive James Sutherland said on Wednesday.

Speaking in a television interview, Sutherland said it was the ACB's preference to play the three-Test series in the scheduled October 1-29 timeframe. "What we've said to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is that we're very keen for these matches to be played in October as scheduled and hopefully that's the approach they're taking," Sutherland said. Australia last week refused to play the Tests in Pakistan because of player safety concerns. Sutherland said if the series didn't go ahead in October, it would be postponed for a year or two, as was the case with the series against Zimbabwe, which was put back two years after Australia refused to tour earlier this year for safety reasons. "It's not a matter if the matches get played but a matter of when," Sutherland said. Pakistan was keen to host the matches, citing financial hardship after nearly 12 months of virtually no cricket there following the September 11 attacks on the US. Sutherland was sympathetic to Pakistan. "This (Australia tour) is the third tour (to Pakistan) this calendar year that's either been aborted or cancelled," he said. "We know what sort of implication that would have for us - you can only imagine the significant financial impact in Pakistan." Sutherland said he was aware that Bangladesh, Sharjah and Sri Lanka have been mentioned as possible venues but wouldn't be drawn on any preferences, although his comments on the Test-worthiness of grounds appeared to rule out Sharjah and Bangladesh. "It's not easy to make grounds available. In terms of preparing wickets and grounds for Test cricket, it's difficult - the wicket needs to last five days. "One of the reasons we made the decision now is to make sure the Pakistanis have an opportunity to access the grounds and start working through that." Sri Lanka has three recognised Test venues - Colombo, Galle and Kandy.

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