West Indies deal secured 2011 World Cup

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has revealed that the vote of the West Indies, in favour of Asia, proved decisive in winning them the right to host the 2011 World Cup and beating the joint proposal of Australia and New Zealand.

Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, told PTI soon after his return from the ICC meeting in Dubai, "The African countries were with us but the vote by the West Indies proved decisive." The vote meant that India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will host the 2011 World Cup.

There were reports in the Pakistani press that lucrative financial rewards were promised to the West Indies in return for their vote. Seemingly, these have been confirmed by comments from I S Bindra, former president of the BCCI, who told reporters in Abu Dhabi, "We have a commitment with the West Indies Board to raise funds to help in next year's World Cup by playing a three-match series in North America. They played a key role in our bid to win the 2011 World Cup and to help them is an obligation." Shaharyar, however, refused to reveal why the West Indies voted in favour of Asia despite having a history of supporting Australia and England.

Karachi-based daily The News reported that on the eve of the meeting, the Asian bid had six guaranteed votes (the four bidding countries plus South Africa and Zimbabwe), one short of the seven needed. The WICB, which is in severe financial difficulties, was then presented with a development plan aimed at boosting the game domestically.

"It was a case of Pakistan and India telling the West Indies `you support us and we will help you revive cricket in the West Indies'," a Pakistan Cricket Board official was quoted as saying. He added that with the seventh vote secured, associate members like Malaysia, the UAE and Israel then voted in favour of the Asian bid.

"The two African nations have traditionally closer ties with Asia than with Australia, New Zealand and England and that mattered a lot in the end," the official added. "The Afro-Asia Cup series held last year also helped in the two African nations going the Asian way." As per the Asian proposal, 15 venues will be used for 51 matches with eight venues in India, four in Pakistan, two in Bangladesh and one in Sri Lanka. India will host 22 games, Pakistan 14, Sri Lanka nine and Bangladesh six. The venues of the semi-finals and the final are yet to be decided.

Shaharyar also said that guarantees have been given on the status of security-sensitive venues such as Karachi and Colombo and if required further will be given. "The event is still five years away and we will keep monitoring the situation. Security guarantees have been given by our respective governments."

Any such guarantees will be important if a repeat of the 1996 World Cup is to be avoided: then, Australia and the West Indies forfeited their Colombo matches. Karachi, on the other hand, has only recently seen the return of top-flight cricket after three years of being ignored. A number of top teams, including Australia, South Africa and England, have refused to play in Karachi because of security fears. But recently, India and England have played ODI matches in the port city and the former even played a Test there earlier this year in January.