South Africa concerned about safety in Pakistan during Champions Trophy

August 12th, 2008 - 10:58 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, Aug 12 (IANS) The threat by the South African cricket squad to withdraw from the ICC Champions Trophy series scheduled in Pakistan next month received fresh impetus when the high commissioner in that country, D.J. Mavimbela, warned Cricket South Africa (CSA) about the players’ safety. The Afrikaans weekly Rapport said here a letter from Mavimbela had been discussed at the CSA annual general meeting by its management. In the letter, CSA was reportedly advised not to send a team to Pakistan after recent bombings claimed scores of lives.

CSA chief executive confirmed to Rapport that the cricket authority had sent various reports on security to the ICC’s task team which is currently investigating the security risks in Pakistan after the ICC decided last month that the tournament would continue despite opposition from countries such as Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa.

CSA indicated that a final decision on South Africa’s participation would be taken by Sep 9, just two days before the scheduled start of the tournament and six days before the first scheduled match for the Proteas against New Zealand.

“It’s expected that the task team will report to the ICC and participating countries soon, after which CSA will discuss the matter further,” Majola said.

A number of members of the South African squad expressed their unwillingness to go to Pakistan, even while they were on tour in England for the past few weeks. Their cause is being taken up by Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricket Players Association.

During their tour of Pakistan in October last year, the South Africans were traumatised by bombings close to their hotel during the first of two attempts on the life of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. She was killed in the second attack.

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