Champions Trophy in real trouble as blasts rattle ICC

The International Cricket Council expressed concern over safety of players after bomb blasts in Islamabad sparked fresh security fears.

updated: July 11, 2008 08:33 IST
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Prospects of Pakistan holding the Champions Trophy are bleak after the blasts in Islamabad sparked fresh security fears among Australian cricketers and the International Cricket Council (ICC) making it clear that it would not compromise with the security of the players.

"The ICC will not compromise the safety and security of any individual at one of its tournaments and if it is not appropriate to play in any country then we will not do so," ICC chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat said in a statement.

Lorgat said that a security process had been agreed for the Champions Trophy.

"The process involved an exchange of information between the competing teams, the ICC and the security consultants."

Security consultants are preparing a report for the ICC and they are expected to announce by the middle of July whether Pakistan is safe to host the eight-team tournament. The ICC has previously stated Sri Lanka would be the back-up venue for the trophy.

India, however, suggested the postponement of the Champions Trophy, instead of shifting it from Pakistan.

"Our security consultants have been working with the Pakistan authorities during the Asia Cup, assessing security, and will report back as soon as possible with their views," he added.

Australia, England and New Zealand players have already expressed their apprehension about touring Pakistan on grounds of security. The blast have only strengthened their case.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, senior Australian cricketers have informed their team mates that they are not going to take part in the Champions Trophy even if Cricket Australia (CA) gives a green signal. The report said that the bomb blast near the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital would prove a major deterrent to already nervous Australian players.

Islamabad is not scheduled to host any matches of the tournament, but the bomb blast yet again proved that the nation remains in a volatile state.

The daily said that CA's security adviser, Reg Dickason, returned from Pakistan last week after an inspection. The contents of Dickason's report have not been revealed, but it is understood security personnel are concerned that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) cannot guarantee cleared roads between team hotels and stadia throughout the tournament.

The Champions Trophy is due to start September 11 with matches to be held in Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi. Eight teams -- Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England and the West Indies -- will participate in the tournament.

Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) feels situation in Pakistan is still very much in turmoil since they abandoned their Pakistan tour in March.

"FICA is very concerned about the inherent risks of holding such an event in Pakistan in such a landscape of unrest and volatility and opposition to western countries," May said.

Champions Trophy will be the first major competition in Pakistan since co-hosting the World Cup in 1996.