Champions Trophy in Pakistan: ICC Chairman doubtful about India travelling to Pakistan, says ‘Challenging issue to work with’

International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman Greg Barclay on Monday admitted that India touring Pakistan for the 2025 Champions Trophy would be challenging, but in the end, the apex body cannot control geopolitical tensions.

Last week, the ICC had confirmed the 14 host countries of the ICC men’s white-ball events from 2024-2031. The Champions Trophy is back and Pakistan will host the tournament in 2025.

“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,” said Barclay while replying to an ANI query during a roundtable with select media.

Over the last two years, all international teams have been big on workload management in order to ensure that their players are available for selection in ICC events. However, while answering to an ANI query, ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said he does not think the charm of the bilateral series will go away.

“I do not think the charm of bilateral cricket will go away. You will see a different range of players, in particular at the moment where people are moving in and out of bubbles, you will see players rotated a little more than normal time but judging by the reaction to the series that recently concluded in India, it does not look like that the appeal of bilateral cricket has diminished much at all,” said Allardice.

ICC is looking to get cricket included in the Olympics, and it is safe to say that the T20 format is the way to do that. However, the ICC senior management does not think that the other formats will take a backseat and there is room for every format to co-exist.

“ICC cricket calendar is shaped across all three formats. I know in some of our developing countries, T20 cricket has been more of a focus. Each country has been given status for its men’s and women’s events. There has been a global ranking system, but in certainly the developed or more traditional countries, there is a strong programme for three formats of the game,” said Allardice.

When asked whether TRPs do take a hit when India bow out of global events early, Allardice said: “In the end, we put on a tournament and teams make their own fortune in the way they play. One of the things we cannot control is how teams perform in an event. Our role is to put the best event we can.”

Talking about the World Test Championship, the ICC CEO said: “We are just going through an exercise for the men’s future programmes. The reaction from the teams that played in the first cycle was very positive. I think those of you that saw the finals walked away thinking that this is a good addition to the cricket calendar. It brings context to Test cricket which previously did not exist. It did not exist globally, it existed on a series-to-series basis.”

“We do have some constraints that we need to work around. Teams share different seasons, other leagues are played over shorter periods and there are regular fixtures. As a league, it is different from other sporting competitions, overall to bring global meaning to the Test series has been a welcome addition,” he added.