Consensus likely on postponing Champions Trophy

August 23rd, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Karachi, Aug 23 (IANS) The Champions Trophy will in all probability will be postponed till early next year and even the venue could be shifted if the situation in Pakistan does not improve in the next four months.A highly placed source in the International Cricket Council (ICC) said there was little chance of the Champions Trophy being played in September as the consensus among the members of the task force after a teleconference Friday was to postpone the event in the wake of South Africa’s pull-out.

The members were also conscious of the fact that Australia, England and New Zealand made it clear that they would not like to risk the players’ life by insisting on their participation in the tournament.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) itself is getting mentally prepared for a ‘negative call’ from the teleconference of the directors of the ICC Executive Board Sunday.

A senior PCB official told IANS that the Board is still hoping that the eight-nation tournament will be held in Pakistan as scheduled but admitted that it knows South Africa’s withdrawal from the tournament will trigger more pullouts from several other competing nations.

“We are hoping for the best while getting prepared for the worst,” said a PCB media spokesperson Mansoor Suhail.

“It would be highly disappointed if the Champions Trophy is not held here because we have spent so much time, money and energy in ensuring its successful hosting. Cricket fans in Pakistan, who were deprived of top quality action because of Australia’s decision against visiting Pakistan earlier this year for a full Test and ODI series, will once again suffer if the Champions Trophy is taken away from here,” he stressed.

Sohail agreed there are indications that the International Cricket Council (ICC) will make a ‘negative call’ on the Champions Trophy following concerns expressed by South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and England about sending their players to Pakistan.

“We fear a negative call (from the ICC) though efforts are still on to somehow convince all competing teams to play in Pakistan,” he said.

While Pakistan has tried its best to save the Champions Trophy by setting up world class facilities at the stadiums and ensuring ‘head-of-state-level’ security for players and officials, some of the competing teams remain unconvinced.

PCB officials are pondering various options in case the Champions Trophy is cancelled, postponed or relocated to another venue.

Board officials have discussed and rejected the idea of staging a four-nation tournament involving Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and the West Indies in case the Champions Trophy is not held because such an event cannot be organised at a short notice.

Another option is to have the tournament next year at neutral venue with Pakistan retaining the hosting rights. There are already suggestions that the Champions Trophy can be ‘hosted’ by Pakistan in UAE next September. But the PCB is unwilling to go for it as it would create a precedent for cancelling tours to Pakistan at some pretext or the other.

The Board officials have also discussed the possibility of swapping the rights of the Champions Trophy rights with Sri Lanka which is to host the biennial spectacle in 2012.

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