LONDON: The International Cricket Council (ICC) today announced eight stalwarts of the modern era as Champion Ambassadors for this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy which will be staged at three iconic venues of England and Wales from 1-18 June. Shahid Afridi of Pakistan, Bangladesh’s Habibul Bashar, Ian Bell of England, Shane Bond of New Zealand, Australia’s Mike Hussey, India’s Harbhajan Singh, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Graeme Smith of South Africa were unveiled as the Ambassadors with exactly 50 days to go before the first ball is bowled in the tournament opener between England and Bangladesh at The Oval. The eight Ambassadors between them have played 1,774 One-Day Internationals, scoring 51,906 runs with 48 centuries, and taking 838 wickets. The Champion Ambassadors will be involved in the ICC Champions Trophy Nissan Trophy Tour and will also make appearances in the UK as part of an inspiring programme aimed at providing school children with an opportunity to meet and play with a legend at the Cricket For Good coaching clinics. In addition to this, the eight cricketers will be part of a strong ICC editorial team and will provide match previews and match analysis through exclusive columns which will be available on the ICC website at www.icc-cricket.com for free download and editorial use.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “With 50 days to go to the Champions Trophy, we are delighted to announce these eight outstanding cricketers as our Champion Ambassadors. The programme will connect these greats of the game with a new generation of fans and players through our Cricket For Good project and leave a real lasting legacy for the sport. “The team will also bring great insight and expertise to fans via the ICC website and I’m sure we will all enjoy reading their analysis and opinions on 15 games during the Champions Trophy.” Commenting on his appointment, Shahid Afridi, who scored 167 runs and took 14 wickets in 13 ICC Champions Trophy matches, said: “I feel humbled to have been appointed as an Ambassador for the ICC Champions Trophy. And to be part of a select group of some of the most respected and accomplished cricketers against whom I enjoyed playing international cricket is an icing on the cake. Three more Ambassadors and we would have made a tournament-winning side. “The ICC Champions Trophy is a tournament Pakistan has never won. It is in a tough group alongside India, South Africa and Sri Lanka, but instead of being overawed by the sides ranked above it, Pakistan should keep faith in its abilities and try to enjoy every time they take the field. There are no short-cuts to success and this group of cricketers will have to go through the same process like its predecessors or any other best performing side.”