South Africa pullout: ICC keep hands clean

Published: Monday, August 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo: ICC President Percy Sonn admitted he was ''deeply disappointed'' at South Africa's withdrawal from the Unitech Cup tri-series here owing to security concerns and said it was upto the Proteas board and its Lankan counterpart to decide if, when and where to replay the series.

''ICC is in no way involved in it, it was a bi-lateral or tri-lateral event and there was contractual relations between Sri Lanka and South Africa. It would be a bi-lateral process to determine if, where and when to replay the series.

''South Africa and Sri Lanka are the two sides here and only if they fail to resolve the issue does ICC step in,'' he explained.

He also asserted that if Sri Lanka offers a new schedule, without affecting the ICC Future Tours Programme, South Africa has to oblige.

Sonn, himself a South African, regretted the withdrawal and said, ''I was deeply disappointed to hear the news because this is a region where people play cricket under the worst situation.

''The world we are living in is an imperfect world, in fact nothing is perfect in this world. ICC wants cricket to be played in the spirit of the game and even at the cost of your personal interest, you should play,'' he added.

Asked how the same Sri Lanka could be safe for him while it's unsafe for the cricketer, Mr Sonn quipped, ''I'm from Cape Town, we are different people.'' Mr Sonn cited how sports helped in bringing in peace in different parts of the world and said, ''Sports can have positive impact on other things. In 1995, our performance in the Rugby World Cup brought the Proteas together -- I remember watching it next to a man whom I used to loath earlier.

''And the India-Pakistan cricket series also showed how cricket can ease tension,'' he added.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan trio of Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas were also upset at South Africa's withdrawal.

''Sports and life should go on, but that didn't happen in this case,'' Sangakkara rued.

Muralitharan came down heavily on the ''mentality'' that Europe is a safe place, whereas the sub-continent is unsafe.

''It's a typical mentality that the sub-continent is not safe.

But how can we change that mentality? It was unfair on their part to pull out. Wish they stayed back and we could play to prove it's actually safe here,'' he said.

Muralitharan, however, ruled out any on-field animosity with the Proteas.

''We will play the game in the best spirit of the game. If they felt it was not safe, it was their decision and you can't do anything about it,'' he explained.

Asked whether he favoured any punishment for the South Africans, the offie said, ''It's upto the ICC and board to decide. We are players and we steer clear of politics.''

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