ICC chair Greg Barclay is confident that the Champions Trophy 2025 will go ahead as planned in Pakistan. The PCB was awarded hosting rights for the tournament last week, which will be the first time the country will be host to an ICC event since the 1996 ODI World Cup in the subcontinent.
Pakistan being awarded the hosting rights for the 2025 Champions Trophy was one of the major highlights when the International Cricket Council ( ICC) announced the hosts lists for the eight major ICC Men’s tournaments to be played in the 2024-2031 cycle.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have endured tough times in recent past, as New Zealand and England had withdrawn from their tours of the country for varied reasons earlier this season. Meanwhile, Anurag Thakur, India’s Sports Minister, too, has expressed apprehensions over the Men in Blue travelling to the country for the marquee event, given the political tensions around.
However, ICC chairman Greg Barclay is confident that the competition will go ahead as planned.
"From what we can see, absolutely. There has been international cricket in Pakistan for a few years, all of it with the exception of what happened in the last few weeks,” Barclay said on Monday, November 22.
"We wouldn't have awarded the event if we didn't think Pakistan was capable of hosting it. We think it is an exciting opportunity for them to be able to host a world event for the first time in a long time. I'm sure, as with all countries, they will put together appropriate security plans to deliver the event. We're comfortable and confident it will go ahead."
Barclay acknowledged the challenges that come in regard to India’s participation, but looked at the event as an opportunity to contribute in helping improve relations between the two countries.
"We know it's a challenging issue," Barclay said. "From my point of view, I can't control geopolitical forces. I just hope cricket can be a force to help improve relations between countries. One of the great things sports can do is to help bring nations together. If we can do something in a small way to contribute to that, that's fantastic."
Barclay also reflected upon the uncertainty over women’s participation in Afghanistan cricket after Taliban’s recent takeover of the country. Taliban’s historic opposition to women’s sport puts Afghanistan’s full-member status in jeopardy, as the ICC norms lay emphasis on equal participation in men’s and women’s sport. Australia have already cancelled the one-off day-night Test against Afghanistan, which they were scheduled to host this season.
"There are certain criteria any country needs to comply with to remain a member of the ICC," Barclay said. "At present we haven't seen any transgression so we will continue to support them as a member and encourage them to continue to take an inclusive approach to cricket.
"It is a challenging situation. It was before August as well. All we can do is to continue monitoring the situation. Hopefully things will settle down, we'll be able to see women's cricket continue to grow. We accept it's coming off a very low base, there's cultural and religious reasons for that. There were slow but perceptible progress being made prior to August. We'd like to see that continue. We're getting some messages that will be the case, that a commitment will be made to women's game so let's just wait and see."