Pakistan board hopes to change Champions Trophy dates

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pakistan board officials have been trying to move next year's Champions Trophy from September to October to avoid hosting the tournament during Ramadan, but a packed international calendar is not allowing any change of dates.

"As things stand, the Champions Trophy will be played in September next year at a time when we will be observing the holy month of Ramadan,"

Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, said.

"We do not believe it would be an appropriate time to hold such a mega event and have informed the ICC about it."

Naghmi raised this issue at an ICC chief executives' meeting in South Africa last month but the suggestion to move the tournament to October was shot down because of a packed international schedule.

Representatives of England, India, West Indies and New Zealand made it clear at the meeting that their teams could not play the tournament if the dates were changed since they have other international assignments in October as per ICC's Future Tours Programme.

"September doesn't suit us because it would be difficult to guarantee attendance for matches during Ramadan,"

said Naghmi. It will be Pakistan's first time hosting the Champions Trophy and the first major tournament in the country since the World Cup in 1996.

But guaranteeing full stadiums is not the only concern for the PCB officials who are also worried about the timing of the matches.

"We don't want to have action on the ground at a time when spectators and the people watching the matches on television are busy breaking their fast [Iftar]. I don't think it would be appropriate,"

Naghmi said.

The bad news for the PCB is that it will be fasting season during almost the whole of next September which means that all the matches of the Champions Trophy will have to be played during Ramadan.

However, Naghmi said that PCB is still hoping that with mutual consent, Pakistan and the ICC will work out the schedule.

"For the Champions Trophy to be really successful, it is important that we find best possible dates for the event and we are trying our best to do it,"

he said.

Naghmi is aware that the FTP's schedule might not allow any change of dates and the PCB is already working on plans to have a successful event even during Ramadan.

"We might work out match timings with the innings break coming at Iftar time,"

he said adding that several proposals were under consideration in a bid to successfully host the Champions Trophy.

ICC officials will arrive in Pakistan on November 2 to review the three venues for the event - Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi.

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