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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Neutral venues agreed
Sharjah's cricket ground
Sharjah has a brief history of staging Tests
Australia and Pakistan have agreed to play the October Test series on neutral soil, with Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates named as the venues.

The decision follows weeks of negotiations in the wake of Australia's refusal to tour Pakistan because of security concerns.

The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) announced on Thursday it had accepted a proposal from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to play one Test in Colombo and two in Sharjah.

A series of fatal bomb blasts in Pakistan early this year had left Australia's star players extremely doubtful of travelling there.


It was very important that these matches went ahead as scheduled
James Sutherland
ACB chief executive

Early in August, Australia formally announced that they would refuse to tour Pakistan because of security reasons.

The limited-overs series between the two nations had already been moved to Kenya but Pakistan authorities were unhappy when Australia pulled out of the Tests.

In January, the West Indies had refused to tour, playing their Test series against Pakistan in Sharjah.

In May, New Zealand, having postponed a tour scheduled for October 2001, abandoned the re-arranged series in May after 12 people died in a bomb blast yards away from their Karachi hotel.

The Australian Cricket Board's chief executive, James Sutherland, expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

He said: "In the best interests of international cricket and the ICC's future tours program it was very important that these matches went ahead as scheduled."


Schedule:

1st Test, 3-7 October: Colombo, Sri Lanka

2nd Test, 11-15 October: Sharjah, UAE

3rd Test, 19-23 October: Sharjah, UAE

Pakistan struggle to attract touring teams

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