Aussie experts to check security in Pak grounds

Published: Sunday, August 7, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:The Pakistan cricket authorities appear to be involved in the perennial exercise of assuring security experts of touring foreign teams that the environment is safe for international cricket in Pakistan.

After entertaining two security experts of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in June, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is now playing host to a three-member delegation of Cricket Australia (CA) that includes a top notch security expert.

Security consultant Reg Dickason arrived in Islamabad on Saturday with a Cricket Australia official and a representative of the Australian Players Association to inspect security arrangements for the Australian A teams tour in September.

The Australian A side will play just two four-day unofficial Tests and three One-days in Rawalpindi and Lahore and have avoided Karachi, Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar on their tour.

Major (retd) Javed Manj, the General-Manager Administration in the PCB who is accompanying the Australian delegation, said the visit was a routine one since the venues for the tour had already been decided.

"They are here to just inspect the venues and meet with security officials to get first-hand knowledge of the arrangements being made for their players," Manj said. The Australian delegation will return home on Sunday night after also meeting with their high commission officials in Islamabad.

Dickason, who manages a company called Business Loss Prevention in Brisbane, is considered to be a Southeast Asia expert and has ample experience of the security scenario on the sub-continent.

He accompanied the Australians on their tour to Pakistan in 1998 and was also employed by the New Zealand team when it toured Pakistan in 2002 when a bomb blast outside their hotel in Karachi that killed 14 people forced them to abandon the tour and return home.

Dickason was also responsible for former Australian player Mark Waughs security when the Australian cricketer had made an appearance in front of a special sitting of Lahore High Court in September 1998 in connection with the match-fixing scandal.

Manj said the Australians were in Pakistan for just a general security overview. "It is more of a liaison role with local authorities to assist with ground security and that sort of thing," he explained.

The Australians visit follows just a few weeks after the ECB had sent two security experts to assess arrangements for Englands tour, which begins in October. England rejected a proposal to play a Test match in the southern city of Karachi for security reasons and settled to contest a One-day instead.

In 2002, the Australians had refused to tour Pakistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and the series was played in Colombo and Sharjah.

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