The England and Wales Cricket Board are preparing to host the ICC Champions Trophy next month after security fears threatened the
viability of the original venues in Pakistan.
The ECB will step in if an ICC task force, visiting Pakistan next week, concludes that conditions are not suitable for the event that is
scheduled to start in just five weeks.
Player associations from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England have all expressed deep reservations over visiting Pakistan at
present. Player boycotts are anticipated and several countries are known to be reluctant to take part.
The original venues for the 15-game competition involving the eight major Test-playing nations were Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi, though
the latter has already been abandoned due to delays with building work.
Warwickshire would certainly benefit if the competition were to be rescheduled. It is understood that Edgbaston would be required to
stage at least one game, with Lord’s and The Oval the other likely venues.
“We were asked by Giles [Clarke; ECB chairman] if we would be interested in hosting Champions Trophy games,” Warwickshire chief
executive, Colin Povey said. “All we’ve said is that we would, in principle, be keen to do so. I understand a number of other Test Match
grounds have also been approached.
“There are some logistical issues. The ICC would probably require ‘clean’ grounds [free of ECB and Warwickshire advertising; a reason
that Edgbaston did not bid to host Twenty20 World Cup matches], but there is a window for the competition [in England] between September 12-26. We have a championship match here [against Glamorgan] from the 24th, but the [Champions Trophy] final would probably be in London anyway.”
The implications of moving the competition could be enormous, however.
Pakistan, who have spent over £3million preparing their grounds for the tournament, are adamant that the competition should go ahead in
its current location and appear to have the support of India and Sri Lanka. A split in world cricket between Asian and Western nations,
appears increasingly likely.
Certainly there is little love lost between the Indian and English cricket boards at present.
Not only have the BCCI (Indian board) excluded most English counties from the lucrative Champions Trophy - a competition that was partially devised to pacify other nations after the encroachment of the Indian Premier League on other forms of the game - but they have insisted on an unattractive itinerary for England’s tour of the country just before Christmas.