The forthcoming series between Pakistan and Australia will not be played at a neutral venue or in Australia as a last resort, the Pakistan board has reiterated.
The Sydney Morning Herald, quoting an unnamed official, recently reported that the PCB would consider shifting the series - to be held in March-April 2008 - to Australia in a "worst-case scenario" in which conditions in Pakistan were not conducive to hosting the series. But Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, denied the report, stressing that the series will be played, as scheduled, in Pakistan.
"The PCB has only one position on this series," Ashraf told reporters in Hyderabad. "Australia will play in Pakistan as per their commitment in March-April 2008. There is no question of it being played at a neutral venue or swapping venues and playing in Australia at this time.
"We have a visit to Australia at the end of 2009 and we will fulfill that as well. But the current series against Zimbabwe has shown that cricket is not affected by such things."
Pakistan has been rocked by a particularly turbulent year of political unrest and violence, which culminated with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, at the end of December last year. General elections were due to be held in the country on January 8, but have now been postponed to February 18.
Several Australian players have voiced their concerns about touring Pakistan, but Cricket Australia's stance on the issue has always been firm: any final decision on the tour will be made after a security delegation has assessed the on-ground situation in Pakistan. The visit is expected to take place soon after elections.
"They are coming and the tour is on as far as we know," said Ashraf. "We have given every assurance to the Australian High Commission. I am surprised but those statements [in the Australian press] were not made by any PCB official."