ICC verdict stuns Aussies; expresses concern about touring Pak

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Sydney, Jul 25 (UNI) The International Cricket Council (ICC)'s verdict has left the Australian cricketers to decide whether to boycott the Champions Trophy after strife-torn Pakistan claimed it would host the September tournament.

Pakistani officials were adamant that it would stage the 18-day event despite a task-force being established to further probe safety and security fears.

''The Champions Trophy will stay in Pakistan and we thank all member countries for their kind support,'' Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf said.

''If it's a battle of legality and logic, we have won it,'' he added.

A deadline of August 10 was set for the task-force during a three-hour hook-up last night between the 10-man ICC Council board, including Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Creagh O'Connor.

''Australia expressed its concerns about touring Pakistan,'' a CA spokesman said.

England, New Zealand and South Africa all expressed their reservations.

The tournament is due to begin on September 11 and there would now be little time to switch locations.

Sri Lanka, England and South Africa have been touted as alternative venues.

As the event now seems likely to go ahead in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi, the threat of players boycott looms large.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting, team-mates Andrew Symonds and Matthew Hayden have expressed all concerns about the trip, despite the likes of Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson maintaining that the country was safe.

Australia has not toured Pakistan since 1998 because of safety and security concerns.

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