Pakistan’s tour of Zimbabwe in limbo over financial issues
KARACHI: Pakistan could face a lengthy break from international arena after June onwards if the scheduled tour of Zimbabwe in August fails to materialise owing to serious financial crisis within that country’s cricket board, it emerged . According to well-placed sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the national team is slated to play a full series of two Tests, three One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals against Zimbabwe under the Future Tour Programme, drawn by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in January 2017. Faisal Hasnain, the ex-ICC chief financial officer who is now Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC)’s managing director, visited Lahore recently and received support from the top PCB officials who indicated they would go with whatever decision the Zimbabwe cricket authorities take. The crux of the situation that Zimbabwe are short of money to host Pakistan since they don’t get much from the TV deal because production costs of covering the series result in massive losses. “Given our current cash situation, in order to balance our books, we may actually have to either renegotiate the format or we may have to postpone it [Pakistan series] until such time as we are ready to play,” Faisal was quoted say saying by the ESPNcricinfo . Australia are also due to visit Zimbabwe under the FTP schedule prior to the Pakistan tour for a one-off Test and three One-day Internationals but that series is also under threat since ZC have been in negotiations to arrange a limited-overs tri-series with Australia and Pakistan in June, but the status of it is also in doubt at the moment. “We are looking at all of that to see whether we have the tri-series only, the Pakistan series only, or we change the format,” Faisal said. “We are just working through, considering our options at the moment.” ZC have been in real strife for some years now and recently they were forced to postpone the domestic competition because they were finding it difficulties in even paying salaries to their staff and players. But Pakistan have in general stood by Zimbabwe and supported them by playing more international fixtures in the African nation since the beginning of 2011. In this period, Pakistan have toured there thrice, including two all-format visits and once for a limited-overs series. ZC will make the final decision over the next two to three weeks or even after that because they will be occupied with the staging of the all-important ICC World Cup qualifiers that run from March 4 to 25 — a tournament from which two teams would join the eight already qualified nations at next year’s 50-over mega event in England.