Pakistan unconcerned by Trophy boycott threat

Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008, 21:00 [IST]
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Pakistan's cricket chief Saturday said he was not worried over the prospect of top players pulling out of the Champions Trophy, which the South Asian country hosts in September.

"If some players do not come it would not make any difference," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf told AFP. "It would be their loss to miss a mega event."

Holders Australia and other key nations could pull out of the Trophy after the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided Thursday to go ahead with the tournament in Pakistan despite security fears.

The ICC announced an eight-member taskforce will ensure security in Pakistan for the September 11-28 showpiece but even that has failed to allay the security concerns of the non-Asian countries.

The Australian and New Zealand players' associations called on their cricket governing bodies not to send teams to Pakistan, while South African Cricketers' Association voiced dismay over the decision.

England and Wales Cricket Board said it would consult key players before taking a final decision on the team's participation.

Ashraf said some top players also missed last year's Twenty20 World Cup without hurting the event.

"We have the example of the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa last year where some top players did not feature in teams, but the event was still a huge success," said Ashraf.

The PCB chairman was confident all boards will convince their players to go to Pakistan.

"We appreciate that concerns of some people were addressed and two comprehensive security reports said that Pakistan is capable of holding a cricketing event, so we are confident that the event will be held in Pakistan.

"We are also hopeful that each respective board will convince their players and ensure full representation of their best side to make the Champions Trophy a world-class event."

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said the game's world governing body was powerless to force players to compete in the event.

"ICC cannot force players to attend. All we can do is to make them confident about measures taken in this regard to safety and security, and on that basis hope they participate," Lorgat said.

Ashraf hoped the taskforce appointed by the ICC will remove players' doubts and invited their representatives to Pakistan to see for themselves.

"I invite players' representatives of all the countries to come and see the ground realities. There are several Australian companies with their citizens working in Pakistan, which prove the fears are unfounded."

Australia are due to defend the title they won in 2006. Hosts Pakistan, South Africa, the West Indies, England, India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand are the other teams scheduled to take part.

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