Players' safety behind decision to skip Pak tour: Oz govt

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Sydney, Mar 12 (UNI) Dismissing suggestions that Australia's tour to Pakistan was postponed due to the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), foreign minister Stephen Smith said the decision was taken solely with the players' safety in mind.

''I have seen suggestions that somehow the decision by Cricket Australia (CA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is related to proposed Twenty20 games in India. I absolutely reject that suggestion,'' Smith said.

''What was most concerning for Cricket Australia was the safety, security and welfare of their players on any proposed tour.'' The world champions announced yesterday that they would postpone their tour of the troubled South Asian country, which has witnessed a spate of suicide bombings since the general election.

Australia have not visited Pakistan since 1998 and the fact that a number of their senior players have signed up for the inaugural IPL, which begins on April 18, has raised suspicions in some circles.

UNI XC AB RK1627

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