New Zealand cricketers oppose Champions Trophy in Pakistan

June 18th, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 18 (IANS) Clouds of uncertainty loomed large over the Champions Trophy in Pakistan as New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association (NZCPA) joined voices with its Australian counterpart in strongly objecting to the holding of the event in September, the month of Ramadan, due to concerns over safety and security of players. NZCPA said death threats were made against the Kiwi players the last time they played in in Pakistan in 2003 during Ramadan and expressed surprise that any international cricket involving Western countries would be programmed during the Muslim holy month given their past experiences.

Ramadan is Sep 1-29 this year and the Champions Trophy among the world’s eight leading cricket nations is scheduled Sep 11-28.

New Zealand has had a difficult and dramatic recent history of touring Pakistan, especially during a one-day series in 2003.

“The dates were confirmed but had to be moved because the last part of the tour fell over Ramadan and there were death threats to the team and some individuals,” NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills was quoted as saying in The Australian Wednesday.

“The series was postponed for two or three weeks, so it’s interesting that the Champions Trophy is now going to be run over Ramadan.”

“I would have thought it would have been the absolute last time that Western countries would have wanted to be in Pakistan,” Mills said.

The NZCPA concerns about security of players in Pakistan are the second in two days from player associations. The Champions Trophy is to be officially launched in Lahore Wednesday night.

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) and Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) have already expressed concerns about safety and security of players in Pakistan.

Tim May, chief executive of FICA, said the association was “very concerned” that among unrest, volatility and opposition to Western countries in Pakistan, the International Cricket Council (ICC) had scheduled the tournament to clash with Ramadan and the anniversary of the Sep 11 attacks in New York, the report said.

May claimed “absolutely nothing” had changed since Australia abandoned its Test and one-day tour to Pakistan three months ago for safety and security reasons.

The ICC continues to insist the Champions Trophy will go ahead as planned.

“The ICC, together with the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and appointed security consultants, will have in place a detailed and robust security plan for the tournament, as is the case with all ICC events,” an ICC spokesman said.

The NZCPA’s concerns about Pakistan have been compounded by New Zealand Cricket scheduling three one-day matches in Pakistan during August.

NZC and the NZCPA have commissioned an independent safety and security report on the tour, which will also dictate whether New Zealand plays in the Champions Trophy. It is expected to be completed next week.

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