England in Talks to Host Pakistan Matches; Ecb May Host 'Home' Tests

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Byline: CHRIS FOY

PAKISTAN and Australia are discussing the possibility of playing their Test series in England next year following yesterday's terrorist atrocity in Lahore.

With Pakistan now effectively out of bounds for international sport, the ECB and the British Government will consider letting them use England as a temporary home to prevent the country being frozen out of world cricket.

As the ICC prepared to launch a review of their World Cup 2011 staging plans, with Pakistan sure to be stripped of their status as one of four co-hosts on the Subcontinent, it emerged that the national team may be spared from total isolation.

Although the attack on the Sri Lankans means that no other side will visit volatile Pakistan for some time, their 'home' matches could be staged on these shores, starting with three Tests against Australia in 2010. Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: 'We could offer Pakistan a temporary home here -- most of the players play here in the county game already. There is also great support for the team in many parts of the country -- for example, among the Pakistani community in my constituency (Bradford).'

Discussions have already begun between the Pakiustan board and their counterparts in Australia, for whom a spokesman revealed: 'We are currently talking to Pakistan about playing Test cricket. 'One option we have discussed with them is playing three Tests in England in mid-2010 or thereabouts, after the ODIs we are due to play against England, in England. I understand that England is, in principle, aware of and comfortable with that possibility.' Next month, Pakistan are due to face Australia in a five-match oneday series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and it is becoming clear that in order to remain active members of the global cricket elite they will have to live a nomadic existence.

But, as ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said yesterday: 'It's better for Pakistan to play cricket on neutral venues than not at all. …