South Africa unlikely to tour Pakistan for Champions Trophy

July 27th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, July 27 (IANS) South African cricketers have joined in the strong voices of protests in touring strife-torn Pakistan for Champions Trophy. Skipper Graeme Smith said the players have expressed “major concerns” over the security situation there. The International Cricket Council (ICC) this week decided to back Pakistan to host the tournament despite growing calls of pull out from England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The Asian bloc led by India had thrown behind their weight behind Pakistan.

But the decision has not gone down well with these teams and players are now openly threatening to back out from the eight-nation tournament in September.

“From the players’ point of view, we do have major concerns with security in Pakistan,” Smith was quoted as saying in The Age.

“A lot has happened in Pakistan, from a security point of view, since we were there and those are things that are worrying us. Generally, that’s a full-player view. I don’t know any players who don’t have issues with regards to security in Pakistan.”

South Africa toured Pakistan last October for a Test and ODI series. Smith said the security situation had worsened since then.

“There were bombings taking place in Karachi and bombings are taking place in Lahore now. Within three days (of us returning home), there was a state of emergency so we have seen how quickly things can develop.”

Smith said it is up to the players association and Cricket South Africa’s chief executive, Gerald Majola, to decide on whether to send the team to Pakistan.

“We have people working on that whom we trust, Tony Irish from the players’ association and Gerald,” Smith said.

“We are in constant communication with them on how we feel as players. We trust them to make the right decisions.”

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