The Emirates Cricket Board chief, Dilawar Mani, has urged the PCB to make longer-term plans to host matches in the UAE. On the Pakistan board's request, the UAE board will send a business plan with regards to hosting Pakistan's home series against Sri Lanka and England, which are to be played this season according to the Future Tours Programme. Mani, however, said planning the series so close to their commencement impacted the financial gains possible from it.
"I can confirm that the PCB has once again contacted us for the business plan to host their series and we will reply in the next two weeks," Mani told The Express Tribune. "The PCB wants to deal with us on a series-by-series basis and, at times, last minute. This is not normal and leads to them making financial losses. You can't come up with a good sponsor on a very short notice. I urge them to come up with the correct strategy and plan the series well in advance so that it helps them."
Mani's comments come at a time when the PCB is caught between a variety of factors in making a decision on home series. Foremost is the government of Pakistan's desire to see international cricket return to the country, a situation senior board officials will privately concede is impossible at present. The PCB had in fact asked Sri Lanka to consider playing the upcoming series in Pakistan but whatever little hope there was of that happening was destroyed by the recent attacks on a naval base in Karachi.
The UAE is a home of sorts, though the PCB has not entered into a long-term agreement with authorities there. The costs of hosting a series in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are higher than would be the case elsewhere, but the benefits in terms of sponsorship could ultimately be greater.
The third option is one that the PCB has also explored: hosting a 'home' series at the venue of the opponent, as they did with New Zealand in 2009-10 or in another venue, like England, where they played two Tests against Australia last year. Though England is unlikely to be a venue again for a while, following last year's controversies, the board is also looking at hosting the 'home' series against Sri Lanka later this year in Sri Lanka itself. Even the series against England, which is to be played early next year according to the Future Tours Programme, could possibly be played in Sri Lanka, given that England are due to play Sri Lanka after the Pakistan series. Likely to be a factor here, however, is the relatively limited potential of earnings from sponsorship in Sri Lanka.
Mani said Pakistan could benefit from playing in the UAE as they would draw crowds there. The UAE hosted a one-day and Test series between Pakistan and South Africa last year and while the limited-overs games saw decent crowds, a combination of the heat and flat pitches left the stadiums almost empty during the Tests.
"Pakistan have good support here and we want them to make it worth their while to come and play here," Mani said. "They could play in Sri Lanka as well but that's up to them to decide. But here they will get immense support which works wonders for the team's confidence."
The series against Sri Lanka and England are scheduled for October this year and January next year, and both will comprise three Tests, five one-day internationals and a one-off Twenty20 international.