Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

Asad Shafiq of Pakistan bats during the Test cricket match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai International Cricket Ground in Dubai on October 10, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2019

Test cricket to return to Pakistan with Sri Lanka’s visit

  • Sri Lanka will play a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month
  • The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship

ISLAMABAD: Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after more than 10 years when Sri Lanka plays a two-match series at Rawalpindi and Karachi next month.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test match in Pakistan in March 2009, when the team’s bus came under attack at Lahore. Eight people were killed during the terror attack, and several Sri Lankan players were injured.
All incoming tours were canceled after the attack and Pakistan later lost its status as a co-host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday said Sri Lanka Cricket had confirmed next month’s tour would go ahead, based on the successful staging of a series of one-day and Twenty20 internationals at Karachi and Lahore in September and October.
Sri Lanka was originally scheduled to play the test series last month and then return to Pakistan for a limited-overs series in December. However, the tours were swapped so that Sri Lanka officials could assess the security situation in Pakistan before deciding on the test venues.
Rawalpindi is now scheduled to host the first test from Dec. 11-15, and the second test will be played at Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of ICC’s World Test Championship.
Zakir Khan, the PCB’s director of operations, said that the confirmation of next month’s test matches reflected confidence in Pakistan’s safety situation.
“This series is part of our cricket celebrations and we will leave no stone unturned in putting up a show which is a memorable one for the players, officials, fans and media,” Khan said.
Several top Sri Lanka players withdrew from the limited-overs series in Pakistan because of security concerns. Sri Lanka lost the ODI series 2-0 after the first game was washed out, but it’s second-string team sprung a huge surprise when it swept Pakistan 3-0 in the Twenty20 series at Lahore.
The SLC said it was satisfied with the visit and the high-level security provided for the team.
Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said he believed cricket’s member nations should host their home matches in their own countries.
“We believe all cricket playing countries should host international cricket at home and in this relation we are happy to play our part in complete resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, which not only has a proud history but has been one of our biggest supporters in our early days as a cricket nation,” he said.
“We drew our opening World Test Championship series against New Zealand, and I anticipate, like in the past, these two tests will be exciting and competitive, and the fans will thoroughly enjoy the quality of cricket that will be on display.”
Pakistan has hosted its home games at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and in England during the last decade. The Pakistan team will play two test matches in Australia before returning for the series against Sri Lanka.


UEFA demand leaves Scottish football clubs in the lurch

Updated 05 April 2020

UEFA demand leaves Scottish football clubs in the lurch

LONDON: UEFA’s ultimatum to national leagues that a failure to complete the football season could lead to exclusion from European competition has left the continent’s less wealthy leagues, like Scotland, in limbo.

Scottish clubs were due to meet by video-conference on Friday with the possibility of following the Belgian league’s recommendation to call their season to an end amid the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That meeting has now been pushed back to next week as Scottish clubs scramble just to survive in the months to come with matches indefinitely suspended on public health grounds.

Meager television rights deals, in particular in comparison to the English Premier League across the border, have seen Scotland slide down the food chain of European football.

The existing broadcast contract for the Scottish Premiership is reportedly worth a total of just £21 million ($22.7 million) annually.

Clubs can therefore little afford to miss out on European competition, with even those who do not participate eligible for solidarity payments from UEFA.

“Since participation in UEFA club competitions is determined by the sporting result achieved at the end of a full domestic competition, a premature termination would cast doubts about the fulfillment of such condition,” UEFA said in a joint letter with the European Clubs Association and European Leagues.

UEFA has lifted a ban on the live screening of Premier League games kicking off at 3 p.m. in England and Scotland for the rest of the season.

The move by European football’s governing body is seen a step toward restarting some domestic competitions in Britain behind closed doors in order to complete the season.

Many Scottish clubs had been keen for the season to be called as it stands — with Celtic crowned champions — so that prize money could be handed out to solve a cash-flow crisis.

A proposal for league reconstruction whereby two teams are promoted and no side relegated from the top four leagues would also mitigate the damage and any potential legal challenges.

Instead, as so often, Scottish clubs have had to turn to their fanbases for support.

According to UEFA’s latest Club Licensing Benchmark report, gate receipts provide 43 percent of revenue for the 12 clubs in the Scottish Premiership, by far the highest in Europe’s top 20 leagues.

The inability to play games and get people through the gate has already resulted in Hearts asking players to take a 50 percent pay cut and members of the Hibernian squad deferring up to half their salary.

Wage deferrals are also on the horizon at Aberdeen, while even Celtic, who had 33 million pounds cash in the bank in their latest financial figures in February, are mulling wage cuts according to manager Neil Lennon.

Despite the fate of this season hanging in the balance, clubs are looking ahead with season tickets for the 2020/21 campaign a means to a short-term cash injection.

“I’ve been heartened by the messages of support I have received from fans asking what they can do to help the club through this really difficult period,” said Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack.

Season ticket sales are not the only reason why the smaller leagues in Europe are more keen to turn the page on the 2019/20 season.

With just 10 percent of income for Scottish clubs coming from the television deal that is due to expire at the end of this season, the big penalty clauses faced by Europe’s top five leagues with broadcasters for failing to fullfil fixtures are not as severe.

Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars criticized the Dutch FA for “hiding behind UEFA” and not being brave enough to call their season to a halt.

“We in the Netherlands are not as dependent on television rights incomes as the leagues in Spain, England, Italy and Germany are,” Overmars told De Telegraaf.

“I think that they had been put under big pressure by UEFA to continue playing at whatever cost.”

The issue is further complicated in Scotland with a new, more lucrative, TV deal — worth a reported 32 million pounds annually — set to start next season meaning clubs do not want to sacrifice a late start to the 2020/21 campaign for finishing this season.

“Given the timescales involved, with every day that passes I think it becomes more unrealistic,” Motherwell chief executive Alan Burrows told the BBC on the prospect of finishing the season.