DUBAI // The UAE could stage the quota of matches at the 2011 World Cup which have been taken away from strife-torn Pakistan, according to Ehsan Mani. The former International Cricket Council (ICC) president has been an outspoken critic of the process which led the the game's ruling body to withdraw Pakistani venues from the 2011 showpiece, on security grounds.
Despite having no matches scheduled in the country, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), to which the Rawalpindi-born accountant is an adviser, have retained their status as co-hosts of the event, along with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. A Pakistan court yesterday extended an order blocking the ICC from moving the 2011 World Cup headquarters to India. The ICC, Pakistan and the 2011 World Cup co-hosts have scheduled a meeting on June 15 to find a compromise, believed to include the possibility of Pakistan's quota of 14 games being staged in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Mani, 64, said of the UAE's credentials: "It certainly has the facilities. Between Dubai Sports City and Abu Dhabi, they have the infrastructure to provide the games. It is a case of whether Pakistan is given back their games and if they can be held in Pakistan. That is really a matter for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the ICC. My understanding is that discussions to that effect are taking place."
The prospect was given greater credence yesterday when Dubai Sports City, where the impressive new stadium opened in April, announced the formation of a powerful new cricket advisory board. The group will be chaired by Mani, who was ICC president from 2003-06, and also includes his predecessor in that role, the Australian Malcolm Gray. The chairman of the ICC anti-corruption and security unit, Lord Paul Condon, and the former West Indies captain and ICC cricket committee chairman, Clive Lloyd complete the four-man panel.
Mani does not expect the group to have a hands-on role in potential negotiations to bring World Cup matches here, but is confident the ICC will feel reassured by their presence. "I don't think we will be involved in any discussions, but it will certainly give the ICC and its members a degree of comfort," he added. "We wouldn't lightly lend our names to any organisation.It is a high-level board which will provide a high-level oversight. Between us we have the ability to fill in any knowledge gaps which [Dubai Sports City] have within their own structure."
Mani's tenure as ICC president coincided with the governing body's move from their long-time headquarters at Lord's to a new, purpose-built home at Dubai Sports City in 2005. In his new role as chairman of Sports City's advisory board, he will be asked to make recommendations "that assist in bringing international cricket" to Dubai. His remit also means he will "work closely with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to ensure that the UAE is well positioned to attract tournaments to the country". That means he will be dealing directly with his brother, Dilawar, who is the chief executive of the ECB.