Doubts lingered over the fate of the Champions Trophy with the Australian Cricketers’ Association telling its members not to travel to Pakistan even as the ICC said the tournament would proceed as planned.
While Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, was confirming in London that the tournament would stay in Pakistan, and saying it was up to the individual boards to decide on participation, Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the ACA, said he didn’t believe it was safe.
“The ACA has discussed the situation with its executive and our position is we can’t recommend to our players they should tour Pakistan for the Champions Trophy,” Marsh told the Australian. “We feel for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the people of Pakistan but it is the job of the ACA to make recommendations to our members based on whether it is safe to tour. Unfortunately in this case we don’t believe it is safe.”
“We have not heard anything officially from Cricket Australia and until we do we are not in a position to make any comment,” an ICC spokesman told Cricinfo.
The news from Australia came shortly after Lorgat addressed a press conference in London and said safety and security in Pakistan was “satisfactory” and the tournament would proceed as planned next month.
Lorgat was speaking after talks with the ECB as part of the ICC task force that has been travelling around the world. On Sunday the group met with the England players and their representatives in Edinburgh and now the ECB has received a detailed briefing, following similar discussions in Australia and New Zealand led by David Richardson, the ICC’s general manager of cricket. ICC officials, including the president David Morgan, are due to talk about the results in Dubai on Wednesday.
The ECB held a board meeting on Tuesday afternoon, at which they were expected to come to a decision on their participation in the tournament after consultation with other boards around the world
“What we have done is to very clearly outline to each of these stakeholders the plan that we have in place for the Champions Trophy in Pakistan,” Lorgat said. “Understandably there are safety concerns and that’s what we are engaged in and we are dealing with.
“The ECB has received a briefing from us and have gone into a board meeting. They will consider our briefing among other reports that they may have on whether they will participate or not. But that is a decision for the ECB, as far as the ICC are concerned the safety and security is satisfactory for hosting the tournament in Pakistan.”
However, while admitting that the final decision on participation lay in the hands of the ECB, Cricket Australia, New Zealand Cricket and Cricket South Africa - whom Lorgat will meet later in the week - he refused to rule out ICC sanctions for countries that didn’t take part or send weakened teams.
“It’s a complicated legal process,” he said. “It’s something I would not be able to tell you at this point. I would like to think that the member boards would not send weakened sides because no life is lesser than another. Either you send your best side or you decide the advice tells you differently. But having said that I think it’s a position the ICC will have to deal with when they see the extent of weakened teams, again it’s speculative at this time.
“I wouldn’t be able to tell you what would be in the minds of the ICC board when it sits to consider such an eventuality. It would be great for the best teams to attend and every one of the best players to come.”
When Richardson visited Australia he said a decision needed to be taken quickly, but Lorgat made it clear that time had virtually run out for a move to Sri Lanka. “I think we’ve got to a position where it’s very difficult to do it to the position where we could stage a successful world-class event,” he said.
“At this point in time there is no discussion about a late move. It is speculative until member boards or teams clearly indicate what their view is. As far as we are concerned the tournament continues in Pakistan.”
Recent political developments in Pakistan, with Pervez Musharraf resigning as president, continue to present an uncertain landscape, but Lorgat said that as far as the Champions Trophy is concerned nothing has changed in the last 24 hours.
“Every single day our security advisors update themselves and in turn us on the changing political environment in Pakistan,” he said. “The advice on the current development is that the status quo remains unchanged. If anything it is a step in the right direction and I’m quoting their words.”
The Champions Trophy is due to start on September 12 after it was pushed back a day following concerns of starting on the anniversary of 9/11. The tournament has already been reduced to a two-venue event after construction work at Rawalpindi failed to be finished on time. All the matches will now be staged in Lahore and Karachi, but the future of the entire tournament is still far from certain.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Australian Cricketers' Association, Champions Trophy, Haroon Lorgat, icc, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paul Marsh, Pervez Musharraf, South Africa, Sri Lanka
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