ECB ready to stage more Pakistan matches: Clarke

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> English cricket's senior administrator said the country was ready to stage more Pakistan 'home games' in light of the security problems.

Updated: July 12, 2010 11:20 IST
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English cricket's senior administrator said on Monday the country was ready to stage more Pakistan 'home games' in light of the security problems affecting the Asian nation.

Giles Clarke, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) insisted his organisation was ready to support Pakistan in their "hour of need".

Clarke was speaking on the eve of the first Test between Pakistan and Australia at Lord's starting on Tuesday, the opener in a two-match series that concludes at Headingley, the Leeds headquarters of county side Yorkshire.

The two sides, who've already contested a two-match Twenty20 series at Edgbaston won 2-0 by Pakistan, were due to be playing in Pakistan.

But the armed attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore last year turned Pakistan into a 'no-go' country for international cricket as far as the rest of the world's leading teams were concerned.

However, the ECB and MCC, the owners of Lord's who are sponsoring the Pakistan-Australia series, stepped in to stage the games as they looked to capitalise on the large fan base Pakistan enjoy amongst British-based Asians.

Clarke, speaking on BBC's Test Match Special, said: "The sad events in Pakistan have made it impossible for sides to currently get security clearance to tour Pakistan.

"It was clear to my colleagues and I at the ECB we had to do something to help. The biggest problem the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) faces is a lack of revenue caused by its inability to host home matches.

"So we approached the PCB to offer them the chance to stage 'home' matches at grounds in England and Wales," Clarke explained.

The two Twenty20s at Edgbaston, located in Birmingham, a central England city which boasts one of the country's largest Asian populations, saw Pakistan roared to victory by enthusiastic crowds.

"It was tremendous to see over 18,000 Anglo-Pakistani fans supporting Pakistan over the course of two matches," added former Somerset chairman Clarke. "They created a fantastic atmosphere in the ground which undoubtedly had a huge impact on the players and helped them to a 2-0 series win."

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said the atmosphere was "just like playing a home match" and Clarke urged fans to continue to turn out in large numbers for the Test series.

"It's essential as a sport we all do what we can to support Pakistan. Both the MCC and Yorkshire County Cricket Club should be applauded for being brave and courageous enough to host these matches, which are not without a high degree of economic risk.

"I call upon the Anglo-Pakistani community to show the same level of support which made the Twenty20 matches such a great success."

Asked if the ECB would be willing to stage more Pakistan 'home' matches on its grounds, Clarke replied: "The ICC (International Cricket Council) Pakistan task-force understands the importance to world cricket of ensuring Pakistan continues to play at the highest level.

"In order to ensure this is possible, and to also assist with the development of the next generation of Pakistan cricketers, it's essential we provide the PCB with the necessary levels of revenue to invest in grassroots development," Clarke added.

"If that means hosting more matches at grounds across England and Wales, then I know the ECB stands ready to support the PCB in its hour of need."

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