Oz players threaten to boycott Champions Trophy

Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Top Australian cricketers would boycott this year"s Champions Trophy should the International Cricket Council insist the tournament to be staged in Pakistan.

Australian players have told teammates that they would stand down from the most prestigious limited-overs tournament of the year rather than tour a nation they deem to be volatile and unsafe.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the prospect of the defending champions sending an under-strength team to Pakistan would be a major blow to organisers, who launched the tournament at a function in Lahore this week.

"It is going to come down to the individual's decision," said one member of the team.

"We have talked about it, and there are some guys who will go if security advice says it's OK. But there are others who have said they won"t go, regardless. At this stage, we are waiting to hear more," The SMH quoted a player, as saying.

Several players, most notably Andrew Symonds, spoke publicly about their reluctance to tour Pakistan earlier this year when the Australian team was due for a Test and one-day tour. After consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Cricket Australia postponed the tour to 2009-10.

CA is aware of its players' concerns but has publicly stated its preference for the team to play in the tournament in Pakistan in accordance with the ICC"s wishes.

CA chief executive James Sutherland is expected to discuss a confidential ICC security report on Pakistan at an ICC executive meeting in Dubai next month.

Australia's players are not alone in expressing concern at the security situation in Pakistan ahead of the Champions Trophy.

Cricketers from New Zealand, England and South Africa are understood to have grave reservations about playing in the tournament, particularly with tensions escalating between Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka has been identified as an alternative venue for the Champions Trophy if the security situation deteriorates; however, the island nation carries the same level of DFAT travel warning as Pakistan.


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