Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan spin bowler, is desperate to see his country playing on home soil again, but believes England is the best option for as long as the team must continue to play in neutral countries. The 33-year-old, who took 208 wickets and is credited with inventing the "doosra" during his illustrious 49-Test career, watched with great interest as Pakistan earned a 1-1 draw in their Test series against Australia last week.
The series represented a landmark occasion as it was the first time Pakistan had played a "home" series in England. Reports have suggested that success has made England the favourite to host a mouth-watering clash between Pakistan and India next year, given the continued reluctance of overseas teams to play in Pakistan at the moment because of security concerns. Saqlain, who is still playing league cricket in Leicestershire, says England is the best place to host games should Pakistan continue to be unable to stage international cricket.
He said: "It shouldn't be a long-term solution - we need to play at home. If we're not playing in Pakistan it will be a big loss and our grassroots level will suffer. "But if they're playing on a neutral venue, England is an excellent place. Pakistan players love playing in England. "There is a big Pakistani community and they really lift us. Also, if the weather is good, pitches are good to bat on, you can reverse the ball and there is a bit of spin.
"If the weather is good the conditions suit us. There are a lot of Pakistan players who play overseas in England for that reason." * PA