It will be after 29 long years when an ICC event will mark a return to Pakistan as the International Cricket Council (ICC) had last week announced Pakistan as the host for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
However, despite being announced as the host for the prestigious tournament, there has been uncertainty over the participation of teams in the tournament, particularly India.
Bilateral cricket between the two neighbouring nation has been suspended since a long time and the two teams only square off in ICC events. However, with the tournament in Pakistan, it is not clear whether the Men in Blue will travel to its neighbouring country.
On the other hand, international sides have largely stayed away from touring Pakistan since an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, which had killed six policemen and two civilians.
ICC chairman Greg Barclay was asked if the global body was confident teams would travel to Pakistan to which he replied: “From what we can see, absolutely. We wouldn’t have awarded the event if we didn’t think Pakistan was capable of hosting it.
“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,” he added.
Meanwhile, speaking on the possibility of India’s chances of visiting Pakistan Barclay admitted that it would be a “challenging issue” and said that the ICC is not responsible to control the “geopolitical forces”. He however, hoped that the sport rekindles the cricketing ties between the two nations.
“Yeah, we know it is a particularly challenging issue to work through, but from my point of view, I cannot control geopolitical forces. I just hope cricket can be a force to help improve relationships between countries. That is the one great thing sport can do is to help people and nations come together. If it can help in contributing to that, then it is fantastic,” he expressed.
Recently, New Zealand and England had called off their Pakistan tours due to security concerns.
Few days back, Indian Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur had said that the Indian government and the home ministry will make a call on India’s participation when the time comes.
“When the time will come, the Indian government and the home ministry will take a decision. During the international championships, all the factors are looked upon,” Thakur said.
“Even in the past, many countries have refused to play in Pakistan due to security concerns. As you all know, many players were even attacked while playing over there and that’s a big issue to be dealt with,” he added.
Significantly, Pakistan had last staged an ICC event in 1996 when they co-hosted the 50-over World Cup with India and Sri Lanka and it will now be after 29 years when an ICC event returns to the cuntry.