CA stands firm to Pakistan tour

New Delhi, Fri, 28 Dec 2007 NI Wire

CA stands firm to Pakistan tour

Dec 28:  In its latest revelation Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed its commitment to next year’s tour of Pakistan despite growing concerns of increasing violence following the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Thursday.

The Chief executive of CA James Sutherland, as quoted in CA website, said that CA would wait for its decision on whether to make a trip to the politically unstable country until February, just a few weeks before the scheduled March-April tour.

Australia is scheduled to play three Tests, five One-day internationals and a Twenty20 match next year in Pakistan.

"Obviously there were tragic circumstances in Pakistan overnight," Sutherland said. "I don't think from our perspective that anything much has changed."

"We're very aware of our commitment to tour Pakistan but at the same time we have absolutely as top priority the safety and security of our players and employees,” said Sutherland.

"At this stage we have a commitment to tour and that will remain," Sutherland said.

According to Sutherland, "We reserve our right to withdraw that commitment at any stage that we see appropriate. But right now we're just not in any sort of position to be making these sorts of decisions."

Sutherland also said that a final decision would be made in consultation with the Federal Government and independent security experts.

Australia last played in Pakistan way back in 1998 while its previous tour in 2002-03 was shifted to neutral venues in Colombo and Sharjah due to security reasons.

On the other hand, former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram also feels that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto will dampen the spirits of the teams from touring Pakistan.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also said that the government would be watching the developments closely. Although he said that the decision on the tour would be left to Cricket Australia.

"It will in general make a big impact on Pakistan cricket because teams might not tour there," Akram quoted Sydney Morning Herald at the first cricket test between Australia and India, where he is a television commentator.

"But we don't know yet what's going to happen now. I've been sitting in Australia and of course I'm worried about every Pakistani back home, that they are safe and sound."

Akram was quite optimistic that the situation would settle down in his homeland over the next coming weeks, and said the scheduled general elections would determine whether it was safe for overseas sporting teams to visit or not.



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