ICC Chairman and CEO Set to Visit Pakistan with World Cup Participation as Key Agenda
In a significant development for the cricketing world, the International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Greg Barclay and CEO Geoff Allardice will embark on a crucial visit to Pakistan on Tuesday. The primary focus of their trip will be Pakistan’s participation in the upcoming World Cup, scheduled to be held in India during October-November this year. This visit holds immense importance as it marks the first time high-ranked ICC officials have set foot in Pakistan since the visit of the then-president in 2008.
The political tensions between India and Pakistan have raised concerns about Pakistan’s ability to travel to India for the World Cup. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) head Najam Sethi has acknowledged the “distinct possibility” that the Pakistan government may not grant permission for the team’s visit to India. Uncertainty looms over Pakistan’s participation in the tournament, and cricket enthusiasts eagerly await the announcement of the World Cup schedule during the World Test Championship final, commencing on June 7 at The Oval.
The current predicament arises from India’s refusal to visit Pakistan for the Asia Cup scheduled for September. Furthermore, India declined the PCB’s proposed hybrid model, which suggested playing only four out of the 13 Asia Cup matches in Pakistan, while the remaining nine matches, including the final, would be held at a neutral venue.
As the official hosts of the World Cup, Pakistan awaits the green signal from the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for the tournament to proceed as planned by the PCB. Informal discussions between the heads of the cricket boards of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are expected to take place during the IPL final in Ahmedabad, where the Asia Cup will likely be on the agenda.
Wasim Khan, the ICC’s general manager of cricket, provided insights into the ongoing discussions between India and Pakistan regarding their participation in the World Cup. He confirmed that ICC officials Greg Barclay and Geoff Allardice are presently in Pakistan, engaging in extensive discussions with the PCB hierarchy. Khan emphasized that it is the responsibility of the two countries and the ICC to reach a conclusive decision.
During their two-day visit to Pakistan, Barclay and Allardice will cover a range of topics, including the ICC’s finance model and the prospects of Pakistan hosting the Champions Trophy in February 2025. This visit holds historic significance as it marks the return of high-ranking ICC officials to Pakistan after a long hiatus. Prior to their visit to Pakistan, Barclay also made a stop in India, signifying the importance of fostering positive relationships between the cricketing nations.
Pakistan had secured the hosting rights for their first ICC event since 1996, following their co-hosting of the World Cup alongside India and Sri Lanka. While the Champions Trophy was initially planned for 2008, security concerns led to its postponement to 2009, with South Africa eventually hosting it in September-October that year. Subsequently, the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 resulted in Pakistan losing its hosting rights for the 2011 World Cup.
In recent years, Pakistan has successfully revived international cricket on its soil by hosting prominent teams like South Africa, Australia, England, and New Zealand for full tours. However, bilateral series against India have been limited to ICC and ACC events.
In addition to discussing World Cup participation, the PCB is also expected to raise concerns about the ICC’s proposed revenue-distribution model during the visit. While the model is still under finalization, approval is expected by June, followed by formal adoption at the ICC’s Annual General Meeting in Durban in July. The PCB has expressed its disapproval of the model and will withhold approval until further details are provided. As per the proposed model, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is set to receive 38.5% of the ICC’s annual projected earnings of US $600 million, while the PCB would receive a significantly lower share of only 5.75%.
The visit of ICC chairman Greg Barclay and CEO Geoff Allardice to Pakistan bears great significance for the future of cricket in the region. It not only addresses Pakistan’s participation in the World Cup but also provides an opportunity to discuss crucial financial matters and the prospects of hosting major cricket events. The cricketing fraternity eagerly awaits the outcomes of these discussions and hopes for a positive resolution that promotes the spirit of the game and strengthens bilateral relationships between cricketing nations.