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SA withdraws from Champions Trophy over security

SA withdraws from Champions Trophy over security

Pakistan's hopes of hosting next month's Champions Trophy were plunged further into doubt Friday when South Africa withdrew, citing security concerns.
The Proteas pre-empted Sunday's emergency talks by cricket's governing body with the announcement that the ICC task force had failed to offer sufficient assurances about their players' safety in a country blighted by extremist violence. Australia, England and New Zealand could follow South Africa's lead.
Pakistan's cricket authorities reacted with anger.
"(Cricket South Africa) should have waited until the ICC board's teleconference on Sunday," said Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Mansoor Suhail. "It's a decision in haste and we are totally disappointed with it."
Friday's meeting in Johannesburg was the last stop on International Cricket Council chief executive Haroon Lorgat's global mission to allay fears of violence in Pakistan. The ICC met the England and Wales Cricket Board on Tuesday after facing resistance in Melbourne last week from players and Cricket Australia representatives.
Pakistan's case has been hindered this week with Islamic extremists perpetrating a renewed spate of suicide attacks in the wake of President Pervez Musharraf's resignation. Twin blasts killed at least 67 people Thursday near Islamabad.
"After extensive discussions and frank exchange of views, the board resolved not to send our team at this time to Pakistan to participate in the ICC Champions Trophy," Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse said Friday. "We respect the right of the Pakistan Cricket Board to stage the tournament and we would urge the ICC to reschedule the tournament as soon as possible."
The ICC board will hold a teleconference Sunday to decide whether to postpone or relocate the event, or to invite replacement countries. Sri Lanka remains the standby venue.
But evidence had been mounting that leading teams were unwilling to risk traveling to Pakistan for the Sept. 12-28 tournament.
The union representing Australia's cricketers said the holder would not participate. Players from England and New Zealand have also expressed reservations about visiting Pakistan, although South Africa is the first of the eight participating nations to officially withdraw.
"This was a difficult decision but it was the right one. There is nothing more important than the safety of our national team," said Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association. "We appreciate all the efforts of the ICC task team, the Pakistan Cricket Board, the Pakistan authorities and the security consultants.
"The players are naturally disappointed for their fans and the people of Pakistan that they will not have a chance to see them in action in that country in September."
The other nations contesting the trophy are India, which is backing Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
"We are firmly behind Pakistan," Niranjan Shah, secretary of India's Board of Control for Cricket, told broadcaster Geo News. "I think it all depends on Pakistan and what they have to say on the security issue.
"If Pakistan says the country is safe to play in and the tournament can be held on schedule, they have our support."


Updated : 2020-11-30 04:05 GMT+08:00