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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Pakistan to face Australia at Lord's, Headingley

Pakistan to face Australia at Lord's, Headingley

Last updated on: April 12, 2010 18:42 IST

The Marylebone Cricket Club on Monday announced that it will sponsor the Test and Twenty20 series between Pakistan and Australia in England in July.

It will be the first time in its 223-year history that the MCC will sponsor international cricket.

The MCC 'Spirit of Cricket' Test series, which will be a non-profit making initiative, comes at a time when Pakistan, who will also be playing a Test and one-day series against England, has become a no-go area for international cricket following the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore last year.

The first Test will be played at Lord's between July 13 and 17 and the second at Headingley from July 21 to 25.

Two Twenty20 matches will be played at Edgbaston on July 5 and 6.

"MCC is committed to the health of Test cricket, and by sponsoring the series and hosting the first Test, the club is supporting Pakistani cricket at a time when the country's Test calendar has been decimated," MCC's Australian secretary, Keith Bradshaw, said.

"We'll do whatever we can to help Pakistan. We have a role to play across the globe. We are independent and feel to some degree that we are the conscience of the game," he added.

Bradshaw refused to divulge how much money MCC is putting into the series, which also features a Test at Yorkshire's Headingley ground in Leeds, citing "commercial confidentiality", but insisted it is a "not for profit exercise" as far as his club is concerned.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board director of cricket operations Zakir Khan said: "We thank the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia for helping us out and making this Test and T20 series in England happen.

"We are also very thankful to MCC. When you are not playing your home series at home, it's very difficult.

"Cricket is still very much at the same level; we have youngsters coming through. The passion is there, that will never die down," he added.

It is nearly a century since Lord's staged a neutral Test, during the 1912 triangular series involving England, Australia and South Africa.

MCC is keen to stage more such matches at Lord's, at a time when Test cricket outside of England is struggling to attract crowds, and Bradshaw said: "The last neutral Test was played here in 1912 and I hope we don't have to wait the best part of a century to play another one."