Dubai: The ICC is confident that teams will have no reservations travelling to Pakistan for the 2025 Champions Trophy despite over a decade-long scepticism about playing in that part of the world. It will also mark the return of major cricketing event to Pakistan after more than two decades. The Pakistan Cricket Board was awarded hosting rights for the prestigious tournament last week, the first ICC global event it has been allotted after the 1996 World Cup. Pakistan had lost the co-hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup due to security concerns.
Recently, first New Zealand followed by England cancelled their bilateral tours to Pakistan citing a range of security issues. Meanwhile, India’s sports minister – Anurag Thakur had also expressed his reservations about Team India participating in the particular event.
“The answer is, from what we can see so far, absolutely (teams will travel),” ICC chair Greg Barclay said replying to PTI’s query during a media roundtable.
“ICC cricket event is coming back to Pakistan after many years. All of it with the exception of what happened in the last few weeks has gone ahead without any any issues at all,” added Barclay, who was joined by ICC CEO Geoff Allardice.
The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. It has not been able to host many international games in the country since the 2009 terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
Barclay insisted that the governing body wouldn’t have awarded the hosting rights to Pakistan if it wasn’t confident of the event going ahead successfully.
“So, we wouldn’t have awarded the event if we didn’t think the Pakistan were capable of hosting it.
“We think it’s an exciting opportunity, a prospect for them to be able to host a world’s event for the first time for a period of quite a period of time.”
“It’s not until 2025 and I’m sure that they will, as all countries are required to do, put together the appropriate security plans and assurances to ensure that they can been as delivered.
“So yes, we were comfortable and confident that we’ll go ahead,” Barclay added.
India’s participation in the tournament remains a doubt as no bilateral cricket has taken place between the two neighbours since 2012 due to diplomatic tensions after terror attacks in India.
Sports Minister Anurag Thakur last week said a decision on India’s participation in the Champions Trophy will be taken when the time comes as there are still security issues for international teams to tour the neighbouring country.
Barclay acknowledged that it will be challenging issue to work through and hoped cricket could bring improvement in the relations between the two neighbours.
“We know that it is particularly challenging issue to work through. I mean, from my point of view, I can’t control geopolitical forces are working on what we do.
“But I just hope that cricket can be forced to perhaps help improve relationships between them.
“One of the great things that sport can do is to help to bring people in nations together. So,if we can do something and in a small way to contribute to that, then that’s fantastic,” he added.