Now, England threaten to boycott Champions Trophy

Senior England players have threatened to revolt against their Board and boycott the Champions Trophy.

updated: June 26, 2008 16:06 IST
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Senior England players have threatened to revolt against their Board and boycott the Champions Trophy, forging a common front with their Australian counterparts in expressing apprehensions over the security situation in Pakistan.

The International Cricket Council may be satisfied with the security situation in Pakistan "as of now" but English media reports said senior England players are unwilling to go by the governing body's assertions.

'Daily Telegraph' claimed that "messages have been bouncing back and forward between English and Australian players" in West Indies, for a concerted action on the issue.

"The Aussies have already come out and expressed their concerns. I'm not a big fan of going to Pakistan. I just hope it won't be us players who get left to make the decision in the end," an unnamed senior England player was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

According to the newspaper, security expert Reg Dickason, whom Cricket Australia was planning to send to Pakistan to assess the security situation there, will also report his findings to the English board.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket CEO Justin Vaughan arrives in London next week to discuss his increasingly edgy players' concerns about touring Pakistan.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting fuelled the specter of players' boycott by admitting that some of his teammates were "apprehensive" about touring Pakistan.

England coach Peter Moores, however, played down the situation and said it had not yet been a topic of conversation. "We'll wait and see what is said and if that's where we're going and we'll take our advice from the ECB." English Players' Association Chief Executive Sean Morris said, "We are working with the ECB on security reports which we will present to the players. Prior to that, there is bound to be a period of uncertainty."

"I met three of the England players and one of the main issues that came up was security arrangements for Champions Trophy. They asked me why the tournament is starting on September 11. It is difficult to answer that question, to be honest." Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori said Pakistan would be one of the "hot topics" of Vaughan's visit and would provide the first opportunity to discuss the Pakistan issue as a group, although it had been raised with Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills when he visited London last month.

"If the Australians have got concerns, I'm sure a lot of other teams will as well. Guys will want to raise concerns if they have them (before Vaughan), and hopefully we'll have some answers to all those issues." Vettori, however, felt it was safe to tour Pakistan if the level of security was the same as when his side toured Pakistan in 2003.

"I was there when the bomb went off outside our hotel (in 2002). I went back a year later on the tour and the security they put forward was immense, and almost overwhelming. I did feel safe throughout that time," Vettori said. "So if they could promise that level of security it would appease a lot of guys." Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board has dismissed security concerns.

"We've been hearing though the media that there are concerns among some of the players about the Champions Trophy, but we are not taking any of it seriously unless there is an official confirmation from the boards of those countries," PCB's director of cricket operations Zakir Khan was quoted as saying by 'The News'.

Zakir said since the ICC had no complaints about the security situation, there was no need for other countries' boards and players to be worried.

"I don't think there is a need for any security consultant from Australia to come here, the ICC (security) officials are already here and monitoring the situation. I believe that should be enough," he said.

The ICC has said that it will continue to monitor the security situation in Pakistan before taking a final decision on the venue in its Executive Board meeting in Dubai on July 20. It has kept Sri Lanka as reserve venue in case the Champions Trophy has to be relocated from Pakistan.