South Africa pull out of Champions Trophy in Pakistan (Lead)

August 22nd, 2008 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Aug 22 (IANS) Pakistan received a major setback Friday in its bid to host the Champions Trophy next month with South Africa pulling out of the eight-nation elite tournament over security fears in the strife-torn nation.The decision of Cricket South Africa (CSA) comes two days before International Cricket Council board takes a final call on the hosting of the tournament.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has requested ICC to reschedule the tournament.

South Africa’s refusal to travel to Pakistan would increase the pressure on other boards like England, New Zealand and Australia, who too have expressed apprehensions in sending their teams to the Asian country.

Sri Lanka is the official alternate venue and has been kept as a stand-by.

CSA officials met with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) task force, led by chief executive Haroon Lorgat, Friday to discuss the security scenario in Pakistan following a spate of recent bombings in the country. The presentation of the task force though failed to convince CSA.

CSA said they assessed the presentation made by the team and also discussed other information available from a number of security reports, including one from their government, before taking the tough decision.

“After extensive discussions and a frank exchange of views, the board resolved not to send our team to Pakistan to participate in the ICC Champions Trophy,” CSA president Norman Arendse said in a statement.

“We respect the right of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to stage the tournament and we would urge the ICC to reschedule the tournament as soon as possible,” Arendse said.

South African Cricketers’ Association chief executive Tony Irish backed CSA’s decision, saying it is a right one as the safety of the players is at stake.

“We appreciate all the efforts of the ICC task team, the PCB, the Pakistan authorities and the security consultants. The players are naturally disappointed for their fans and the people of Pakistan that they will not have a chance to see them in action.”

Several players from Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa have earlier refused to tour Pakistan because of safety fears, but the powerful Asian bloc has yet to indicate whether it will support the tournament being moved.

PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said his board would continue to “resist any attempts to shift the event”.

Naghmi said the PCB continued to offer reluctant countries the chance to inspect security arrangements.

The ICC task force has already met with officials and players’ representatives in New Zealand, Australia and England in a bid to allay their security fears.

Top ICC officials, including president David Morgan, vice-president Sharad Pawar, chief executive Lorgat met in Dubai Wednesday to discuss feedback from the task force briefings with representatives from England, Australia and New Zealand. The ICC board will hold a teleconference Sunday to decide on the issue.

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