Najam Sethi, the interim Management Committee chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has confirmed the possibility of the national team playing their 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup matches at a neutral venue instead of India. This decision was previously speculated but has now been made official. The “hybrid model” was first discussed in relation to the Asia Cup, which Pakistan is set to host in September, and India playing their matches at a neutral venue. During negotiations with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the PCB leadership had made it clear that they expected the model to be replicated come the World Cup in India in September. Sethi had discussed the matter with top ICC officials and according to sources close to the PCB, the proposal received an “encouraging response”. The ACC is expected to adopt the hybrid model but is yet to make a final decision. Sethi has confirmed that he has talked with the ICC and ACC about the “hybrid model”.
Sethi had also mentioned that he had to face “resistance” from the ICC officials but he was able to convince them that the “hybrid model” was the way forward. He added that if India did not come to Pakistan to play the Asia Cup matches, the Pakistani public could question why Pakistan is playing in India. Sethi reiterated that the “hybrid model” would also be considered when Pakistan hosts the ICC Champions Trophy in 2025.
During the media talk, Sethi backed the new-look Pakistan side that lost their three-match Twenty20 International series against Afghanistan 2-1. Pakistan went into the series without five of their top players in captain Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf. All-rounder Shadab Khan led a squad of young and inexperienced players. Sethi said the series was meant to test new talent for Pakistan and PCB deliberately sent junior players. He also added that Pakistan identified two “shining stars” from the series.
The standing committee on IPC, headed by Nawab Sher, applauded the PCB management for successfully organizing the HBL Pakistan Super League’s eighth season. The committee was informed that the PCB paid Rs.2 billion tax to the Government of Pakistan. During the meeting, a PCB official briefed the committee that the board was making efforts to revive domestic and international cricket in the country. Sethi added that PCB’s next goal was to revive women’s cricket through the Women’s League, for which a budget of Rs.7 billion was allocated. The committee was also briefed regarding the rehabilitation/revival of Hyderabad’s Niaz Stadium. A PCB representative said that the stadium was under the city’s civil administration without any prior notice. He said the PCB management desires to take charge of the stadium. The committee directed the PCB to call a meeting with Hyderabad’s district administration to resolve the issue.
In conclusion, Sethi confirmed that Pakistan might have to play its 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup matches at a neutral venue instead of India. The hybrid model was discussed during negotiations with the ACC and BCCI and has received an encouraging response from ICC officials. Sethi also backed the new-look Pakistan side that lost their three-match Twenty20 International series against Afghanistan 2-1. The PCB management was applauded for successfully organizing the HBL Pakistan Super League’s eighth season. Lastly, Sethi spoke about the PCB’s goals for the future, including the revival of women’s cricket through the Women’s League and rehabilitation/revival of Hyderabad’s Niaz Stadium.