Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Johannesburg are being considered as possible venues to host this year's Champions Trophy.
Champions Trophy set for UAE
The UAE could host this year's Champions Trophy. An International Cricket Council (ICC) official said yesterday that the competition could be held in the UAE or Johannesburg even though Sri Lanka is the designated alternative venue. The tournament was postponed last year and then taken away from the original hosts Pakistan after many countries expressed reservations over security issues. Dave Richardson, the ICC general manager for cricket, said doubts had been expressed as September and October, when the event is planned, would be the monsoon season in Sri Lanka. "Some doubts have been raised over Sri Lanka being a suitable venue more from a weather point of view," he said. The security situation in Sri Lanka is not entirely safe either with the government battling the Tamil Tigers militant group. According to sources, the ICC officials were also sceptical about Sri Lanka from an organising point of view. Sri Lanka Cricket have been in disarray for the past two months after the sports minister Gamini Lokuge sacked the chairman Arjuna Ranatunga and has failed to appoint a new committee. The ICC are also believed to be keen to have a big tournament close to its headquarters here, with the new Dubai Sports City (DSC) stadium set to open next month, complementing the proven world-class facilities at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. "What is decided is that the Champions Trophy has to be held in one place with at least two venues and completed in 12 days so that narrows down the choice of other possible options," added Richardson. He said the possible options were Johannesburg in South Africa or Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, though the two venues make the Emirates the best viable solution. "I think these options would be in the frame when the venue is finalised in March or April," he said. "We would be ready in April but so far the ICC is yet to get in touch with us," said U Balasubramaniam, the chief executive of DSC. The Abu Dhabi Cricket Council president Dilawar Mani has already expressed his desire to hold ICC events as the capital has been the forefront of holding Pakistan's series with Australia next month along with DSC. Mani also expressed confidence that the UAE would be ready. "We hope the decision is in our favour," he said. "As far as we are concerned, though, Sri Lanka is the official venue even though, from a humidity point of view, day-night matches in the UAE are as good as the island nation." And Lokuge admitted he fears Sri Lanka will miss out on hosting the tournament. "We are getting indications that the ICC wants to stage the Champions Trophy in Dubai but Sri Lanka is the alternate venue," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org