Oz Champions Trophy tour to Pak in jeopardy following Islamabad blast

July 7th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, July 7 (ANI): Yesterdays suicide bombing in Islamabad claiming 20 lives has further cast doubts in the minds of the already-worried Aussie cricketers over Pakistans ability to host the Champions Trophy, scheduled for September.

These players have been apprehensive of playing in Pakistan citing security reasons, as in the recent past media reports quoted them as saying that they would consult their family members before taking a decision to tour the country for the Champions Trophy.

A senior Australian government official had earlier told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Aussies were a bombing away from not going to Pakistan for the tournament, and the attack on a police position near the Red Mosque in Islamabad could prove a major deterrent to already nervous players.

Several senior Australian players had informed teammates that they will not play in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan , even if the tournament is given the green light by Cricket Australia (CA), the paper reported.

Incidentally, CA’s security adviser Reg Dickason had returned from Pakistan last week after conducting an inspection on behalf of the Australia , England and New Zealand cricket boards. The contents of Dickason’s report have not been revealed, but it is understood security personnel are concerned that the Pakistan Cricket Board cannot guarantee cleared roads between team hotels and stadia throughout the tournament. Cleared thoroughfares have been a feature of past security plans in Pakistan .

The international players union FICA has previously spoken of their angst that the Champions Trophy coincides with the holy month of Ramadan, and is due to commence on the seven-year anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks on America . Players from Australia , England and New Zealand have privately expressed concern over playing the Champions Trophy in Pakistan this year, and the prospect of mass boycotts is real.

CA, after consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, postponed Australia ’s scheduled Test tour to Pakistan earlier this year due to its proximity to the general elections. Last month, Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told the Herald Australia would be viewed dimly by other cricket playing nations if they failed to attend the Champions Trophy in Pakistan .

He had said: It would certainly be disappointing if the defending champions were not at full strength, so it is up to their board to convince them otherwise. They would be hurting their own team. They have to weigh up their loyalty to their team, or pull out on account of a security concern that I can assure you is unfounded. (ANI)

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