PCB proposes to provide Australian team with man-to-man security

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Sydney, Feb 8 (UNI) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has proposed to provide personal bodyguards to every member of the Australian team following security concerns by Cricket Australia (CA) that left a question mark on the series which is scheduled to start in March.

Apart from assigning personal bodyguards, roads will be closed to all traffic as the team travels to and from grounds as part of the planned stringent security.

Earlier, PCB had shortlisted four venues for the tour but Cricket Australia (CA) expressed it's concerns saying they had ''issues'' with the venues in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad.

However, a senior PCB official said that the level of security being provided to the Australian team is reserved for visiting heads of state, and there should be no fears for their safety.

''If a player is travelling in a lift, there will be security with him. If he goes to eat somewhere, he will have protection.

There will be man-to-man security,'' the official told The Sydney Morning Herald.

''All roads will be closed to traffic every time the team travels to and from the ground. When they are entering their team bus, it will be checked by bomb-disposal units. There will be sniffer dogs, too,'' he added.

CA chairman Creagh O'Connor will write to his Pakistani counterpart Dr Nasim Ashraf to further outline his worries.

The PCB is eagerly awaiting O'Connor's letter, believing that CA should conduct a pre-tour visit before expressing concerns over the proposed venues.

''They have got issues with the venues,'' the official said.

''We will wait to see Creagh O'Connor's letter. They don't have an issue with the cricketing side of things, it comes to the safety and security of their players,'' the official added.

O'Connor is believed to have ruled out the possibility of shifting the tour to Australia in meeting with Ashraf that took place in Dubai last week.

The Aussie chairman reportedly told Ashraf that March-April would not be an ideal time to play in Australia due to wet weather and a clash with football codes.

However, the official declined any possibilities of playing the series on neutral venues. ''We have made it bluntly clear to Cricket Australia that it won't be happening.'' CA spokesman Peter Young confirmed that Ashraf did raise the option of swapping the tour with Australia so that the Aussies visit the subcontinent nation at the end of next year.

Young said the Australian team had prior commitments to be in Australia at that time and could not travel.

''We are familiar with all four cities (in Pakistan), and they all have got the appropriate facilities for playing cricket,'' Young said.

''What we need to get a clear understanding of is what safety and security measures will be in place.

''We are still working through the process and we will not put our players and officials in any position where their safety is at risk.'' UNI XC RAR RSA SSC1147

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