Dubai, Apr 12: Veteran Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was today named one of the eight ambassadors for the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled in England from June 1 to 18. Pakistan's Shahid Afridi, Bangladesh's Habibul Bashar, England's Ian Bell, New Zealand's Shane Bond, Australia's Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Graeme Smith of South Africa were unveiled as the other ambassadors for the tournament.
The announcement comes exactly 50 days before the first ball is bowled in the tournament-opener between England and Bangladesh at The Oval. Harbhajan, who was a member of the India side which shared the 2002 trophy with Sri Lanka in Colombo, said he feels honoured. "To be appointed as an Ambassador for a global event in which India will be the defending champion is one of the highs for me as a cricketer and something to be really proud of," Harbhajan was quoted as saying by the ICC in a statement.
"I am confident that team India will achieve greater heights and am sure that millions of fans back home will be following the side's fortunes." 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 Champions Trophy Trophy Tour and will also make appearances in the UK. In addition to this, the eight cricketers will be part of an ICC editorial team and will provide match previews and match analysis through exclusive columns which will be available on the ICC website. ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: "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."
Former Pakistan captain Afridi said it feels good to be part of an esteemed group. "Three more Ambassadors and we would have made a tournament-winning side," he quipped.