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South Africa's 'no' imperils Champions Trophy

South Africa's 'no' imperils Champions Trophy

South Africa's refusal to participate in next month's Champions Trophy in Pakistan has put serious doubt over the viability of the tournament ahead of an ICC meeting Sunday to determine its future.
South Africa pre-empted an International Cricket Council teleconference scheduled for Sunday, in which a final decision was expected on the hosting of the tournament, by announcing Friday it would not go to Pakistan due to ever-increasing security concerns.
Australia, England and New Zealand's players and boards had also expressed serious reservations about security arrangements, meaning South Africa's decision may prompt a wider boycott of the event.
That would leave the ICC facing a choice of whether to relocate the tournament to Sri Lanka, postpone the tournament _ which would be difficult given the crowded cricket calendar _ call up fringe cricketing nations to replace those who boycott, or call it off altogether.
The ICC, top security officials in Pakistan, players and sponsors had been involved in weeks of tense negotiations over the future of the tournament, currently scheduled for Sept. 12-28, leading up to Sunday's teleconference.
Pakistan can count on the support of its two major Asian counterparts India and Sri Lanka in the teleconference.
Sri Lanka is the standby venue, but shifting the tournament at such a late stage presents difficulties. It would require Pakistan to agree to stand aside as host, and there had been no thorough security assessment of Sri Lanka, which has its own violent political insurgency.
Pakistan's hosting rights took a significant blow Thursday when a suicide bombings killed 67 people outside the country's biggest weapons-making complex, 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside the capital Islamabad.
Pakistan and the ICC remain adamant that international players and officials would be safe in Lahore and Karachi _ the two venues of the tournament _ but its assurances did not convince South Africa and it remains to be seen if Australia, England and New Zealand had been won over.
Pakistan has promised participating teams foolproof security usually reserved for visiting heads of states. The assurance came after a meeting involving top security officials and the ICC, led by chief executive Haroon Lorgat, in Islamabad earlier this month.
Lorgat and ICC general manager Dave Richardson led high profile task forces this month that met with the players and officials in New Zealand, Australia and England, without getting commitments of participation. Pakistan, as a last ditch effort, even sent it's Australian coach Geoff Lawson to help persuade players from Australia and New Zealand.
Australia, England and New Zealand had not yet definitively refused to take part, but their positions were expected to be made clear in Sunday's teleconference.
Pakistan reacted angrily to South Africa's pullout prior to the ICC Board's meeting.
"(Cricket South Africa) should have waited until the ICC board's teleconference on Sunday," said PCB spokesman Mansoor Suhail. "It's a decision in haste and we are totally disappointed with it."
Last year South Africa pulled out of its fifth and final one-day international at Karachi when at least 136 people died in a suicide attack near a truck carrying former prime minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return from an eight-year exile.
Bhutto was later assassinated in another suicide attack in Rawalpindi in December _ one of the three proposed venues for the Champions Trophy. The ICC later scrapped Rawalpindi as a venue as it did not host any matches during the Asia Cup in June-July, so a full security assessment was not possible.
Australia also canceled a proposed tour to Pakistan earlier this year.


Updated : 2021-10-22 22:39 GMT+08:00