Pakistan get Champions Trophy go ahead - for now

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pakistan will host September's Champions Trophy as scheduled "at this stage", the International Cricket Council (ICC) said following a board meeting here Thursday.

The year's biggest one-day tournament featuring the top eight Test nations -- Australia, South Africa, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the West Indies -- is due to be held in Pakistan from September 11 to 28.

But touring Pakistan has been a security concern for several foreign teams, especially Australia which postponed its March-April visit this year after a series of suicide bomb blasts.

In a statement Thursday, the global governing body said: "The ICC board received an interim, oral report from security consultants on the security arrangements for the Asia Cup, the last multi-team event in Pakistan ahead of September's ICC Champions Trophy.

"A final report will be provided to the ICC in due course following the conclusion of the ongoing tournament. At this stage the ICC Champions Trophy will proceed as scheduled."

With Sri Lanka, the alternate venue, in the midst of heavy fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, South Africa have come into the reckoning as possible hosts an ICC source told media.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said he does not yet know if his side will travel to Pakistan and raised the prospect of individual withdrawals even if the title-holders do decide to send a team.

"We don't know if we're going. And if we do go, we don't know if individuals are going to pull out,"
Ponting was quoted as saying in foreign newspapers.

"It just won't be Australian players. There will be a few other teams who will be thinking long and hard if the tour does go ahead."

Pakistan officials have dismissed security concerns, hoping the ongoing Asia Cup will dispel any doubts over their ability to host the Champions Trophy.

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