PCB chairman Najam Sethi is headed to Malaysia to ‘explore alternative options’ of a new home venue for Pakistan – at least for the forthcoming series against Australia and New Zealand – owing to the clash of itineraries of the national cricket team and various T20 leagues that UAE is slated to host.“We have started looking at alternate venues for our home and PSL matches and I am going in March to Malaysia to see the grounds and facilities there and if everything works out well then obviously we see Malaysia as a venue which can host our international home series and the PSL as well,” Sethi was quoted as saying by PTI.
UAE has invariably served as “home” ground for Pakistan since international cricket was moved out of the territory following the militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus on their 2009 tour. It has also hosted the two editions of Pakistan Super League thus far. However, Sharjah’s growing popularity as the first-choice destination for various new T20 leagues has left PCB with one less venue for internationals as well as the domestic league.
Sharjah is due to host the new Arabian Cricket League – run by the Emirates Cricket Board – in January, just ahead of PSL season that kicks off in February. Further, PCB reportedly is unhappy with ECB granting the Afghanistan Cricket Board permission to launch its T20 league in Dubai and Sharjah, that coincides with Pakistan’s series against Australia and New Zealand, to be played in October-November.
Sethi also noted that PCB had not been able to register any significant profits from its home series since 2010 because of the costs involved in hosting and organising matches in the UAE, where the crowd turnout has been poor. While maintaining that UAE remains PCB’s first choice, Sethi hasn’t ruled out the possibility of opting for another, financially more viable option. Malaysia, that holds Associate membership, is on top of PCB’s list of alternate venues primarily due to low investment.
“Our first preference will remain the UAE, but if what they are trying now ends up hurting our interests, then we will explore other options,” Sethi said. “So I am just going to Malaysia to check out their facilities and cost and expenditures of holding our bilateral FTP [series] there for the time being. There is no certainty [about it]; we are simply exploring options,” he told ESPNCricinfo.