DUBAI  - An International Cricket Council (ICC) committee says a rule requiring neutral umpires at international matches could be suspended to facilitate a proposed tour of Pakistan by Bangladesh.
Pakistan has not hosted international cricket since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team at Lahore in March 2009 and the team has since played home matches in the United Arab Emirates.
Bangladesh is keen to be the opposition for the Pakistan team's return home next month and the ICC Chief Executives' Committee says allowing umpires from the two countries would overcome any ICC concerns for the safety of neutral officials. ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat says the exception "should not to be regarded as a preferred option or precedent."
Meanwhile, as many as 16 men's teams could participate in the ICC World Twenty20 Championships 2014, to be hosted by Bangladesh, the Chief Executives Committee has recommended to the ICC board.
Besides proposing an increase in the number of teams for the 2014 championships, the CEC also suggested that three additional Twenty20 Internationals be allowed in the year in which the ICC World Twenty20 is being played. The current regulations permit a maximum of 12 T20Is for each full member in any one year. The CEC believes this would allow teams to prepare better for the event.
The meet in Dubai, which concluded on Wednesday, also gave the associate and affiliate members a possible chance to host a World Twenty20 event in future. Currently, only full members play host to the T20 extravaganza every two years. South Africa hosted the first edition while England and the West Indies were the venues for the next two tournaments. This year, the focus shifts to Sri Lanka. However, the CEC reckoned that the associate and affiliate members should consider submitting a detailed proposition to host a future ICC World Twenty20 event in a developing country or region.
“It was an important discussion and the CEC agreed that further conversations to strategically manage T20 cricket and also to promote all three formats would be beneficial,” ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat said. The CEC also recommended the new Future Tours Programme (FTP) agreement and a revised Anti-Racism Policy to the board for approval. The ICC seemed pleased with the quality of pitches across the world, given the results over the last year. The CEC noted a marked improvement in the quality of pitches that has led to a much better battle between bat and ball in Test cricket. Only 10 per cent of Tests in 2011 ended in a draw as compared to 38 per cent in 2010. "Overall the ICC match officials have been excellent and the notable improvement in standards of officiating needs to be acknowledged,” Lorgat said. India received a jolt when the Woolf report on ICC governance got a shot in the arm from the CEC. The committee received a presentation on the independent Woolf Report.
The presentation was to allow the CEC, an important grouping, to better understand or to seek clarification or explanations of any proposals contained in the report.
The CEC noted that member boards and the ICC Board of Directors in particular will need to consider the recommendations in detail, a number of which were already work in progress.