PCB Chairman Urges Neutral Venues for Pakistan’s World Cup Matches
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) acting chairman Zaka Ashraf is set to raise an important issue during the upcoming ICC meeting in Durban this week. Acting upon the direction of Ehsan Mazari, the Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (Sports), Ashraf will advocate for Pakistan’s ODI World Cup matches to be played at neutral venues. Mazari highlighted the disparity in treatment between Pakistan and India, emphasizing that if the Indian team cannot travel to Pakistan for the Asia Cup due to geopolitical tensions, then Pakistan should also be allowed neutral venues for their World Cup matches.
Due to the strained relations between the two countries, the PCB has informed the ICC and the BCCI that Pakistan‘s participation in the World Cup is contingent on government clearance. Ashraf, along with the PCB Chief Operating Officer Salman Taseer, is attending the ICC meetings in Durban, where they will address India’s refusal to play in Pakistan citing security concerns.
Mazari revealed that he, along with other members of the special committee appointed by Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, personally believes that it is time for Pakistan to take a strong stance against India’s refusal to tour the country. Sharif formed a high-level committee, led by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto, to determine whether the national cricket team should travel to India for the World Cup.
Mazari stated, “If India doesn’t want to send its team to Pakistan for the Asia Cup due to security concerns, then we expect our World Cup matches to be played at neutral venues. If the Indian board questions the security situation in Pakistan, we can also raise concerns about the security situation in India.”
Before Ashraf assumed his role as chairman of the new cricket management committee responsible for PCB affairs, his predecessor Najam Sethi had negotiated an agreement with ACC members, including the BCCI. The agreement stated that Pakistan would host 4-5 Asia Cup matches at home, with the rest being held in Sri Lanka under a hybrid model.
Additionally, Sethi had put forth a strong case to the ICC, requesting an increase in Pakistan’s revenue share in the new financial model for member countries. He argued that if India were to receive the majority of ICC revenues, Pakistan should also see an increase in its share. Sethi highlighted the importance of Pakistan’s participation in generating lucrative broadcast and sponsorship deals for the ICC’s upcoming events from 2023-2027.
It remains to be seen how Ashraf will advocate for an increase in revenue during the ICC meetings. A source within the PCB revealed, “If there are no Pakistan-India matches in ICC events, other boards will suffer financially due to lost revenue.”
In summary, the PCB acting chairman, Zaka Ashraf, will raise the issue of Pakistan’s ODI World Cup matches at neutral venues during the ICC meeting in Durban. This comes as a response to India’s refusal to play in Pakistan for the Asia Cup. The PCB has made it clear that Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup is subject to government clearance due to strained relations between the two countries.
The Pakistan government and the special committee appointed by the Prime Minister are supportive of taking a strong stance against India’s refusal to tour Pakistan. Furthermore, the PCB is advocating for an increase in Pakistan’s revenue share within the ICC’s new financial model. The absence of Pakistan-India matches would negatively impact other boards’ revenues in ICC events.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) acting chairman Zaka Ashraf will push for neutral venues for Pakistan’s ODI World Cup matches at the ICC meeting. PCB seeks parity with India’s refusal to play in Pakistan, and highlights the need for increased revenue share for Pakistan in ICC events.