9 May 2007

Why is Abu Dhabi hosting international cricket?

Ready yourselves for another rant. Why are Sri Lanka and Pakistan playing in Abu Dhabi from 18th - 22nd May? Yet more strange scheduling brought about by money, much like the World Cup schedule - you can view that particular rant here.

After lots of uncertainty, Zakir Khan, PCB’s Director of Cricket Operations, has publicly stated that the Abu Dhabi series will be played from May 18-22 as the hosts have sorted out all the financial concerns. “The Abu Dhabi cricket officials have informed us that there are no financial issues anymore and the series would go ahead as planned."

Originally the organisers in Abu Dhabi wanted a triangular series to go ahead between Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa, but South Africa rightly refused to enter a tournament so shortly after the World Cup. There is something very different about a tournament held in a neutral country between 3 countries, and a series held as part of a tour to another country such as India are going to play in Bangladesh and West Indies are going to play in England. This particular series should never have been scheduled, and it's no wonder that the hosts have had so much trouble getting sponsors and bidders for the TV rights given the proximity of this series to the World Cup.

As always money is at the forefront of the decisions made by the Sri Lankan and Pakistani cricket boards to send their teams to Abu Dhabi - both teams have been reportedly offered $500,000 each, but this hasn't been enough to stop several top players ruling themselves unavailable - Younis Khan and Shoaib Akhtar from Pakistan, and Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas from Sri Lanka.

It will be interesting to see if the cricket produces games that create even the slightest interest. Pakistan can't really be taking the series too seriously - they haven't even appointed a coach for the event following Bob Woolmer's death at the World Cup. Another case of turning up to collect the money then - one wonders if there is anyone that this particular series is benefitting?