Malaysia, Ireland and Scotland have emerged as surprise contenders to host future Pakistan "home" series. Ijaz Butt, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, confirmed that those nations, along with England and the United Arab Emirates, could become the Pakistan team's foreign base while the domestic security risk remained high.
While stressing his desire for cricket to make a prompt return to Pakistan, Butt said his board would announce in the next month neutral venues for impending international series. Butt has already held discussions with Giles Clarke, chairman of the ECB, regarding the feasibility of England hosting next year's Test series between Pakistan and Australia, and will soon decide where other matches will be based.
"We have a number of alternatives before us, and we are investigating their suitability as host venues," Butt told Cricinfo. "We have spoken with the ECB, and we will speak again with Giles Clarke when we all get together for the next ICC meeting in Dubai. There are other alternatives too. Kuala Lumpur, Ireland and Glasgow are among those. Nothing has been finalised at this stage but we will hope to make a decision in the next month."
Pakistan will return to competitive cricket this month when they play Australia in a five-match one-day series, followed by a one-off Twenty20 match, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. They have not played since the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore on March 3, and now face an uncertain future with teams unwilling to tour in the immediate future due to the security risk.
England and the UAE have previously been discussed as potential foreign bases for the Pakistan team, but Malaysia, Ireland and Scotland emerged as new contenders. In 2006, Kuala Lumpur's Kinrara Academy Oval hosted a triangular one-day series featuring India, Australia and West Indies. Ireland and Scotland, meanwhile, host international cricket on a more regular basis, as their respective national teams attempt to ascend from the Associate ranks.
"Some have contacted us, and others we have inquired about," Butt said. "We are investigating all possibilities. We want teams back in Pakistan as soon as possible, but for now it is important that we ensure matches still progress."
Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, confirmed he had held preliminary discussion with the PCB's chief operations officer, Salim Altaf, and was amenable to the idea of hosting Pakistan matches.
"Our aim is to heighten interest in cricket in Ireland," Deutrom said. "We are trying to build an argument that we are a sufficiently viable cricket nation to make the step up to the elite level. To be able to host Pakistan in limited overs and even Test matches could only help us in attracting more interest in the sport. We would be more than happy for Pakistan to play here."