South African cricketers don’t want to play in Pakistan

July 26th, 2008 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, July 26 (IANS) The South African cricket squad, currently touring England, is unhappy over International Cricket Council’s (ICC) decision to go ahead with the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, despite concerns about the safety of players there. Proteas captain Graeme Smith told the Afrikaans daily Beeld from Worcester in England that his players are very concerned. “As players we have serious reservations about security in Pakistan.”

“We have people that we trust, such as Tony Irish (the former chief executive of the South African Players Association) and Gerald (Majola, chief executive of Cricket South Africa) who are looking at the situation,” Smith added.

Smith also said that the current situation in Pakistan could not be compared to that in October 2007, when the South Africans last toured Pakistan.

“A lot has happened since then, (although) a lot happened during the last few weeks of that tour which frightened us.”

Hundreds of police and security staff were dispatched to accompany the South Africans at that time after bombs went off near the hotel they were staying in. Roads were also closed off during their transit between grounds and their hotels.

Observers here feel that providing that same level of security to all the teams in the ICC tournament would be an almost impossible logistical task.

Irish confirmed to Beeld that there was concern over the players’ safety, but denied that there would be a boycott of the tournament by the South Africans.

“It’s wrong to say that there has already been a decision not to participate in the tournament. We will still meet with Cricket South Africa before a decision is taken,” Irish said.

Although other South African players preparing in Worcester for the third Test against England next week would not comment on the issue, sources close to them said most of them were not keen to play in Pakistan amid the current safety concerns.

The players’ associations of Australia and New Zealand have already advised their players to give the tournament a miss.

The ICC has also indicated that no player would be forced to participate, leading to fears that those countries which did agree to participate might field weaker teams than they would otherwise do in international matches.

Pakistan is beleaguered by extremist insurgency from neighbouring Afghanistan and from within its borders.

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