“Only Mr. Shah can explain why these options were rejected and why Sri Lanka was accommodated…”: Najam Sethi Criticized Jay Shah On Asia Cup 2023 Venue Debate

The Asia Cup 2023 has stirred up controversy, not for the on-field action but for the selection of venues. Former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Najam Sethi took to social media to voice his frustration over the decision to let Sri Lanka host the matches.

Sethi didn’t hold back as he criticized Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary leading the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), for choosing Sri Lanka as the host nation. He revealed that he had proposed alternative venues, including Pakistan and the UAE, primarily due to concerns about the unpredictable weather conditions in Sri Lanka.

One of Sethi’s proposals was to play all matches in Pakistan. He argued that international cricket had fully returned to Pakistan, making it a viable and safe option for hosting the tournament. However, this suggestion was turned down.

When the idea of playing all matches in Pakistan was dismissed, Sethi came up with another proposal: hosting five games in Pakistan and eight in the UAE. This approach aimed to strike a balance between safety and convenience, but it, too, faced rejection.

Sethi revealed that ACC hinted at giving the Asia Cup hosting rights to Sri Lanka if the proposed alternatives were not accepted. This request added pressure to the decision-making process.

“I pleaded for three approvals in various meetings with Jay Shah and ACC colleagues: Play all matches in Pakistan as international cricket had fully returned to Pakistan. When this was shot down I proposed that we play five matches in Pakistan and eight in the UAE. This also they rejected and hinted at giving the Asia Cup hosting rights to Sri Lanka if we didn’t budge,” He tweeted.

The crux of Sethi’s criticism revolved around the weather conditions in Sri Lanka. He argued that the forecasted rains in Sri Lanka could adversely impact match results and diminish attendance at stadiums, thereby affecting the overall success of the tournament.

“Finally, after we said we might not participate, they scheduled four matches in Pakistan and posted the rest in Sri Lanka. We repeatedly pointed out that the rains forecast in SL would adversely impact match results and diminish crowds at stadiums. We also argued that gate receipts from UAE stadiums would be many times more than those in SL given economic considerations,” Sethi added.

In addition to the weather, Sethi emphasized economic considerations. He suggested that gate receipts from stadiums in the UAE would far surpass those in Sri Lanka, making it a more financially lucrative choice.

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Sethi revealed that the Emirates Cricket Board took a proactive step by approaching the BCCI to convince them to host the Asia Cup in the UAE. The UAE had successfully hosted cricket events in similar weather conditions. However, this effort was met with resistance from the BCCI.

“When Mr. Shah didn’t agree, a high-level delegation of the Emirates Cricket Board flew to Mumbai to persuade BCCI to play the Asia Cup in UAE as in the past when two IPLs and one ACC ODI event were played there in the same weather conditions. BCCI refused to accept their request. Only Mr Shah can explain why these options were rejected and why Sri Lanka was accommodated against all reason, logic, and rationality. The choice of venues in Sri Lanka was also problematic as we have seen,” Sethi concluded.

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