Asian world cup bid was nearly derailed
Asia's bid to host the 2011 World Cup came close to being derailed at the recent ICC Executive Board meeting in Dubai. Shaharyar Khan, the Pakisan Cricket Board chairman, told reporters at the National Stadium in Karachi that the bloc, consisting of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had asked - and been granted - a deadline extension for the submission of their bid. The request, he added, met sustained resistance from certain ICC member countries.
Shaharyar said Asia had failed to hand in the compliance book (the document that outlines various logistical information including details of venues and facilities) by the February 28 deadline. "We missed the original deadline and asked for an extension which we got till March 16. Now the compliance book has been compiled but it still has certain problems which need to be addressed. There was lots of heated debate and resistance among members but with great difficulty we got the ICC to accept that there are genuine reasons for the delay."
The group now has till April 21 to submit the compliance book and a final decision is likely to be taken nine on 30 April. Shaharyar also admitted India had been initially a reluctant potential host but the issue had now been resolved. "I don't think it is true anymore (that India weren't keen). We had bilateral discussions during the meeting and India is keen and willing now - they are 100% on board."
Some concerns are yet to be resolved. Reports have suggested that Sri Lanka are not happy with the allocation of matches across the four countries (22 in India, 16 in Pakistan, 9 in Sri Lanka and six in Bangladesh) although Shaharyar said no issue was raised by Sri Lanka in Dubai. The semi-finals and final, according to the chairman, are likely to be staged along the lines of the 1996 World Cup, which means India will host both semi-finals and Pakistan the final.
The other headache will be an Indian one, concerning which eight or nine venues will be chosen to host the 22 matches and which will miss out. "The major problem is the rotation policy in India. It is for now India to work out and identify its centres. But we have decided that the 51 World Cup matches would be played on 15 Asian centres."
Despite the typically subcontinent problems with the bidding, Shaharyar remains confident their proposal will be eventually accepted. "I am convinced the compliance book will be ready by April 21 and it will be very difficult to reject that bid. Anyway there is an understanding that Asia will host every third World Cup so I am 95% sure that we will get it."
Shaharyar also revealed that India and Pakistan were strongly opposed to the concept of a Twenty20 World Cup so soon after the inception of the format. The ICC announced after the meeting that Twenty20 cricket is set to become an official part of the international calendar from 2007 onwards and that England could host an inaugural world championship as soon as 2009.
But Shaharyar argued that it was too early to host a Twenty20 world cup. "We understand that it's a popular concept and that if the ICC don't do it, we could have a Mr Packer no.2 situation. But our stance is that the format has just begun. A few countries haven't even tried it out domestically so how can you have a world cup? We hosted two tournaments so far but we can't say definitively that it is a success just yet.
"We took the position - and India was with us on this - that this isn't furthering cricket, it debases it and it furthers only commercialism. We were the only two to oppose it officially. It needs more time. Touring teams to Pakistan will not have to play an international Twenty20 game as part of the series although if we tour somewhere else we will fulfill any such obligation."
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo