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PAKISTAN TO HOST ICC EVENT; KHAWAJA BACK; ECB IN CRISIS

The Yorkshire racism scandal reached parliament as Azeem Rafiq appeared before MPs; Pakistan will host the 2025 Champions Trophy.

Pakistan to host 2025 Champions Trophy
Pakistan will stage an ICC event for the first time since it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup. (Credit: Reuters)

A look at the major headlines from cricket this week.

Pakistan, USA to host major ICC events

Pakistan will host the 2025 Champions Trophy, while the USA will co-host the 2024 T20 World Cup with the West Indies after the ICC announced eight white-ball men’s events between 2024 and 2031 on Tuesday.

England, Ireland and Scotland are set to jointly host the 2030 T20 World Cup during the cycle from 2024 to 2031, a period which will see two 50-over World Cups, two Champions Trophy competitions and four T20 World Cups.

The big news is that Pakistan will host its first global event since the 1996 World Cup, with the next Champions Trophy set to be played in the country in 2025. The ICC’s announcement is a major boost to Pakistan after New Zealand and England withdrew from tours this year.

In a big shot for American cricket, the USA will host its first major tournament when it shares the 2024 T20 World Cup with West Indies.

MTC India’s quick take: Good for the global game to see Pakistan and the USA host major ICC events. And yeah, that is a lot of white-ball cricket being played over eight years. 

In-form Khawaja wins Ashes recall

Usman Khawaja has expectedly been recalled to Australia’s Test squad for the start of the upcoming home Ashes series versus England, and will potentially vie with Travis Head for the one middle-order spot open with Matthew Wade out of the picture.

The Queensland captain Khawaja, who turns 35 in December, is currently the top run-scorer in Australia’s Sheffield Shield with 404 from six innings at an average of 67.33. He last played Test cricket during the 2019 Ashes series.

Usman Khawaja Ashes
Usman Khawaja is back in Australia’s 15-man squad for the start of the Ashes. (Credit: Cricket Australia)

Cricket Australia named a 15-man Ashes squad for the first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide, which includes Marcus Harris as David Warner’s opening partner and Mitchell Swepson as the second spinner. The squad features five pace bowlers in vice-captain Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser and allrounder Cameron Green.

Mitchell Marsh, Australia’s T20 World Cup hero, was included in an 11-man Australia A squad also named today, which will play a three-day internal practice game against the Test squad in Brisbane from December 1 and then a four-day game against England Lions from December 9.

MTC India’s quick take: Well done, Khawaja, for keeping the fire burning. But what does it say about Australian cricket that they’ve gone back to a near 35-year-old once again? 

Rafiq’s racism claims puts ECB in crisis

English cricket is close to an emergency over its failure to address diversity issues, according to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive Tom Harrison, after former Yorkshire batsman Azeem Rafiq went into detail, very emotionally, about the racism he encountered during his time at the historic club as he gave evidence to a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

Protected by parliamentary privilege and speaking in front of MPs, Rafiq delivered an explosive account of his harrowing experience of racism in cricket while playing for Yorkshire, offering new and shocking allegations that implicate the likes of former England cricketers Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Alex Hales and Gary Ballance.

Azeem Rafiq racism testimony
Azeem Rafiq told MPs about the names and racial slurs used in the Yorkshire dressing room. (Screenshot)

Rafiq, 30, fought back tears as he told MPs the word ‘P***’ was “used constantly” across his two spells at Yorkshire and that no one in leadership challenged it. Rafiq initially voiced his claims in an interview to ESPNcricinfo in September 2020, which prompted a protracted investigation by Yorkshire which eventually concluded he was a victim of “racial harassment and bullying” but, controversially, nobody would be disciplined.

MTC India’s quick take: Chin up, Rafiq. Thanks to your bravery, there will be changes in cricket’s culture. As for the ECB, wake up. This is 2021. You cannot have institutionalised racism in your system. Disgraceful. 

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