PCB positive to get hosting rights of major ICC event in 2023-31 cycle: Wasim Khan

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board feels confident that it will get the hosting rights of at least one major ICC event during 2023-31 as there is now a stronger will from the game’s world governing body to spread the global events unlike the 2015-23 cycle, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said on Sunday.

According to Wasim, the PCB has expressed its interest in staging the U-19 and women’s events, ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC T20 World Cup, while it has jointly submitted a bid with the Emirates Cricket Board to host the 2031 World Cup in the UAE.

“Realistically, we have a strong chance [of staging a major ICC event] because one of the key priorities for the ICC is safety and security. And we as hosts have already demonstrated it through the delivery of 2019-20 and 2020-21 international and domestic seasons that we have the capacity and capability to host world-class events,” Wasim told Dawn in an interview.

“We have time in terms of understanding whether we will receive a tournament or not, but we are optimistic and there is no guarantees.”

In the eight-year period from 2015 to 2023 there are 18 ICC tournaments of which the so-called ‘Big Three’ distributed the six men’s major events between them — the two World Cups (England 2019 and India 2023), Champions Trophy (England 2017) and three Twenty20 World Cups (India 2016, India 2021 and Australia 2022).

The 12 other qualifying events were allocated to smaller and emerging countries, but Bangladesh was the only lucky country from the subcontinent apart from India to earn the hosting rights of the 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup.

According to Wasim, the ICC recently confirmed receiving around 100 bids from various countries to host its 28 events of the 2023-31 cycle, giving the PCB confidence to acquire rights for the first time since the 2011 World Cup, which were surrendered in 2010 in return of the hosting fee due to security reasons in the aftermath of the March 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.

“I think there is now a strong will from the ICC to spread as many of these tournaments across more nations rather than the Big Three,” Wasim said. “So, once that is a bit of an objective from the ICC, it then brings us into play and gives us as much opportunity as any other country.”

After successfully hosting international teams, MCC, HBL PSL during the past 14 months, Pakistan gears up to host non-Asian sides in 2021 with South Africa scheduled to tour in January, New Zealand in September followed by England (October) and West Indies (December).

Wasim, who along with PCB chairman Ehsan Mani, has been using his contacts and influence with some of these members, attributed the improved safety and security situation in Pakistan as the major reason for foreign teams willing to travel and play in the country.

“I think first and foremost, nobody is going to travel and play in a country where they don’t feel safe. Therefore, the very fact that three international teams played red and white-ball cricket in Pakistan, MCC visited Lahore and HBL PSL 2020 was held here from start to finish answers the question relating to security,” Wasim remarked.

“But, let’s not be under any kind of illusions that countries will not just purely come to Pakistan to fulfil their obligations. They would insist on us playing in the UAE, for example.

“So, what this tells us is that a high level of trust and confidence has been built. People buy into people, not into systems or plans that people have on paper. So, we’re really pleased that we have been able to leverage that to build the trust and confidence to have these teams coming now. And hopefully what we’ll see now is cricket being played sustainably now for the next foreseeable future and forever,” the PCB chief executive added.

On Prime Minister and PCB Patron Imran Khan’s invitation to Afghanistan cricket team to tour Pakistan, Wasim said: “We’re delighted that the prime minister has invited the Afghanistan team; we’ll certainly now be following that up.”

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