Cricket Australia confirms play Champions Trophy

Published: Thursday, July 13, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Dispelling fears that the Aussies might withdraw from the Champions Trophy following the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, Cricket Australia (CA) today clarified that the World Champions will participate in the event to be held in India in October-November.

''Cricket Australia looks forward to joining the BCCI and the globe's other cricketing nations at the ICC Champion's Trophy in a few months,'' CA President Creagh O' Connor said in a letter to his Indian counterpart Sharad Pawar.

Mumbai is scheduled to host five matches, including the final and Australia's second game, during the tournament. The blasts, which rocked the local train system in the city, claimed 190 people and reportedly injured 700.

Expressing their condolences to the victims of the blasts, the CA chief said,''All of us at Cricket Australia were deeply shocked to hear the tragic news of shameful bombings in the cricket-loving city of Mumbai.'' Earlier, Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) Chief Executive Paul Marsh hinted that Ricky Ponting's men might reconsider their participation in the Champions Trophy in India in the wake of the blasts.

''We will have a pre-tour visit with Cricket Australia officials to India and we will also rely on independent advice. If it is deemed safe to go we will tour; if we are told it is unsafe we will reconsider our position,'' Marsh was quoted by the Advertiser as saying.

The ACA chief asserted that the security of players was a primary concern and Australia was keeping an eye on the situation. The daily reported that Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned tourists heading to India to ''exercise caution because of the risk of terrorist activity by militant groups.'' ''The safety of Australian players is always of vital importance.

We have a good procedure in place with Cricket Australia to assess overseas destinations,'' Marsh said.

Though an official word on the matter is still to come, the newpaper quoted a CA official as saying that the decision to participate will also depend on the ICC's stand on the issue.

''In terms of the Champions Trophy, it's obviously an ICC tournament. We'll be continuing to take briefings from the ICC,'' the CA spokesman has reportedly said.

The Aussies have previously cancelled their tours to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe due to similar security concerns.

Meanwhile, CA chief Creagh O' Connor has written a letter to BCCI President Sharad Pawar expressing their condolences to the victims of the blasts and assured full support to the BCCI for the Champions Trophy.

''All of us at Cricket Australia were deeply shocked to hear the tragic news of shameful bombings in the cricket-loving city of Mumbai,'' the CA chief said in the letter.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Cricket interim committee has also expressed their sympathies for the victims of the terror attack.

''The cricket fraternity in Zimbabwe and on my own behalf, please accept our message of support and sympathy for the Indian cricket community, following the bomb blasts in your country,'' committee chairman PF Chingoka said in a letter to Mr Pawar.

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