CC hopes Trophy decision in larger interest of cricket

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2008, 20:00 [IST]
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The International Cricket Council said Wednesday that its decision on whether Pakistan can host the Champions Trophy in September must be viewed in the "larger interest of the game".

The ICC executive board is due to hold a teleconference on Thursday to decide if the security situation in Pakistan is safe enough to hold the event, or whether it should be relocated.

"The ideal scenario is that without compromising on the safety and security of the players, the tournament is held in Pakistan.

"In that case the members must view this decision in the larger interest of the game and make this important tournament a success," an ICC spokesman told AFP by telephone from Dubai.

"If the tournament is relocated we must move on as well."

Cricket's top eight nations -- Australia, South Africa, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the West Indies -- compete in the biennial event, which is scheduled to be held in Pakistan from September 11-28.

But Australia, England and New Zealand have raised concerns about security in Pakistan, which is battling militants in tribal areas where Washington has said Al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists have created sanctuaries.

If the board decides to clear Pakistan as the venue, some top players are likely to stay away.

"The ICC had an assessment and individual countries had their own assessments, and now if the tournament is held in Pakistan, I suspect it is inevitable that some people may pull out, which would be disappointing," the ICC spokesman said.

"For the ICC, every player is important. We have assured that there will be no compromise on the safety of the players and the host country will be responsible for that," he said.

Media reports in Pakistan and India suggest the security assessments conducted by the ICC, before and during the Asia Cup which Pakistan hosted in June-July, are favourable.

However a suicide bomb blast in Islamabad earlier this month ,which killed 19 people, and a series of small bombings in the port city of Karachi have renewed security fears.

Rawalpindi -- which adjoins Islamabad -- Karachi and Lahore are the three venues for the Trophy matches.

Representatives of the participating boards and players received a security briefing on Sunday from the ICC, after which the game's governing body raised concerns about threats beyond the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) control.

"While there was recognition of the PCB's security arrangements, concerns were expressed about the potential for threats beyond the PCB's control and these will be addressed in the board's meeting," the ICC said in a statement on Sunday.

Dissenting nations would need seven out of 10 votes to change the host nation.

"Military and police forces protect individuals. Even those forces, however, cannot always legislate for a crazed individual. That was the point that was being made on Sunday that referred to threats beyond the control of the Pakistan Cricket Board, the host," the statement said.

Sri Lanka, the designated alternative venue for the tournament, is also facing renewed violence between Tamil Tiger rebels and government troops.

South Africa and England have been tipped as other potential alternatives.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja said the cricket world should rally around Pakistan.

"The cricket fraternity should rally around Pakistan which is a country where cricket is followed as a passion," Raja told AFP.

He added: "We see no danger to the competing teams here."

Raja, a former opener and now a commentator, said Pakistan's successful hosting of the Asia Cup made a strong point in their favour.

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