ICC task force winds up Pakistan visit

August 12th, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Aug 12 (IANS) The International Cricket Council (ICC) task force Tuesday headed for Australia after completing a whirlwind tour of Pakistan to assess the security situation here ahead of next month’s Champions Trophy. The task force headed by ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat visited Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi within a short span of two days and met top government functionaries.

After winding up the Pakistan trip with a visit to Karachi, Lorgat told reporters Tuesday that the task force was satisfied with the security arrangements promised by Pakistan for the eight-nation tournament.

But he was quick to add that the real task of his team would be to convince players from competing nations that Pakistan is a safe destination.

“We will now go to Australia and later to New Zealand, England and South Africa and try to convince the players that they will be safe in Pakistan (during the Champions trophy,” he said in a press briefing here at the National Stadium.

Star players from the four nations have raised safety concerns about playing in Pakistan and there are fears that they might boycott the event.

Lorgat said the ICC will take all possible steps to avoid such a happening but made it clear that it cannot force any player to come and play in Pakistan.

About Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson’s trip to Australia and New Zealand, Lorgat said that he himself offered his services to help convince players in his native Australia and New Zealand. “We accepted his request believing that he may be able to convince the players about playing in Pakistan.”

Lorgat said the ICC has decided to drop Rawalpindi as one of the venues and now all of the matches will be played in Karachi and Lahore. He said that the fresh itinerary will be announced shortly.

Earlier in the day, the ICC task force met Karachi’s police chief and was briefed about the security blanket that would be offered to the players and officials attending the Champions Trophy.

There was also a dress rehearsal of the security arrangements for the Champions Trophy and the task force moved in the city flanked by an army of security vehicles. Such a security cover is generally reserved for VVIPs visiting the city.

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