LONDON: Former International Cricket Council (ICC) president Zaheer Abbas has advised the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to opt England as a neutral venue for Pakistan to host their home series. Zaheer expressed these views during an exclusive interview to The Nation here on Monday and said: “In my opinion, the UAE pitches had given nothing to Pakistan cricket rather taken everything away. These dead tracks are the graveyard for fast bowlers and only Pakistani batsmen get assistance from these slow pitches, that is the main reason, Pakistan failed to produce a single quality pacer or even a single quality spinner. “The PCB must find other neutral venues like England, as we have to pay hefty amount for utilising UAE tracks as well, so why not try to talk to ECB. Pakistanis and other Asians are residing in England in quite a number, so they will turn up to the ground in huge numbers to watch national team playing their home matches,” he added. When asked in the past too, when the ECB allowed Pakistan to play home matches in UK, it was in fact Ijaz Butt, who ruined exceptional bilateral relations between the two countries and instead of thanking to the ECB and English people for lending unconditional support to Pakistan cricket, he started blaming England for tainted players involvement in fixing, Zaheer said: “Yes, Ijaz Butt should have realised the ECB’s tremendous gesture for Pakistan cricket and should have appreciated their support, instead of blaming them. But now its past and the things are quite change. I am confident enough, if the PCB talks to the ECB or any other country for using their grounds as neutral venues, they will not disappoint the board.”
When asked what is the need of hiring foreign coaches when results were yet pathetic, Zaheer replied: “Off course, we have a number of great players, who can easily help Pakistan cricket. What the foreign coaches had been done so far for Pakistan cricket since past 12 years or so. We spent huge national exchequer on a number of foreign coaches, but results were not even close to satisfactory.” To a query regarding picking up only one captain for all formats, the Asian Bradman said: “It is the PCB, who may answer this, but in my personal opinion, it is not right to change skippers every other day. Before appointing a skipper, it is the PCB’s duty to take all stakeholders on board and ponder over fully on their decision, and once the skipper is appointed, then stick to that person for at least handful matches. I am against replacing national team captains on regular basis.” When asked should 44-year-old Misbah call it a day, he replied: “Once again, it is not my domain, as Misbah and the PCB are in best position to comment on that, but I feel if Misbah is playing well, age doesn’t matter. It is the fitness and above all consistent performances, which matters the most.” About PCB’s round table conference, Zaheer said: “First let the former cricketers arrive for the proposed conference, then we will see whether there are some positives or not, but I strongly suggest and recommend the PCB to find alternative venues as already too much precious time has been wasted. “Results in Australia and New Zealand even England are more than enough to open their eyes. I don’t know why the PCB is not taking this issue seriously, the longer Pakistani players play at UAE pitches, the more Pakistan cricket keep on suffering,” Zaheer concluded.