x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

ICC move gathering momentum

A return to Lord's will be discussed 'seriously' at the executive board meeting today while Modi hints at holding IPL matches in the UAE.

DUBAI // The International Cricket Council (ICC) will officially discuss moving away from the UAE for the first time today, when the executive board meet at Dubai Sports City. But the potential departure of cricket's governing body could be offset by the possibility of the UAE hosting Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, was given a guided tour of Sports City during the opening World Twenty20 qualifier matches last night.

"There are plans in the works to hold IPL matches overseas," said Modi. "We are looking at a shorter version of the league post the IPL seasons, which will help us take the game to the fans across the globe. Initially we are looking at markets which have large Indian and cricket loving populations such as the Middle East, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bangkok, Canada and others." However, today's agenda will focus on the ICC's headquarters relocating back to London where they were based at Lord's for 96 years. They moved to Dubai in 2005 for, among other reasons, financial benefits.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, and David Morgan, the president, commissioned a feasibility study after the ICC executive board proposed a move. Lorgat said: "For the first time the matter will be considered seriously." The MCC, the owners of Lord's, have indicated they would be receptive to the idea of making space for the ICC within their £400million (Dh2.3m) redevelopment. Lorgat, though, believes the UAE will continue to be a major cricket hub, irrespective of whether the ICC move. He added: "The fact the ICC may or may not be here should not effect Pakistan wanting to play so called 'home' fixtures in Dubai. Pakistan would be looking and seeking to play fixtures on neutral venues. It is a fantastic stadium at Dubai Sports City, and there is no doubt they will continue to use it."

Lorgat also confirmed that the ICC have a long-term commitment to Sports City, via their Global Cricket Academy. He said: "Quite unrelated to where the offices are located, the ICC Global Cricket Academy will be here. It is a fantastic facility, and is located in an area where a lot of the international teams even can pass through and make use of it." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae