SA's pull out disappoints PCB; fears more teams to follow

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Lahore, Aug 23 (UNI) After South Africa decided not to tour Pakistan for next month's Champions Trophy, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expects that England, Australia and New Zealand will follow Proteas' footsteps.

PCB Chief Operating Officer Shafqat Naghmi today said the trio was likely to walk on the path shown by South Africa, who withdrew yesterday from the eight-nation tournament, scheduled from September 12 to 28, citing security concerns.

''Four countries have now decided against coming to Pakistan.

I probably shouldn't bracket the other three (England, Australia and New Zealand) with South Africa as they have yet to announce their decisions but from what we are hearing they will probably do the same,'' Naghmi told mediapersons.

He further said, ''We already know they have expressed their apprehensions about coming to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy.'' However, Naghmi was dejected with South Africa's decision to pull out of the tournament.

''Rescheduling is a problem because of the tight international calendar involving all teams and every board is aware of this.

And we have been preparing very hard to make the Champions Trophy a safe and successful event,'' he stated.

''South Africa's decision is all the more disappointing for us because they came to Pakistan last year and were satisfied with the level of security we provided them on the tour,'' Naghmi added.

Speaking about cricket in Pakistan, the PCB chief said, ''Pakistan cricket has been going out its way since 9/11 to accommodate and ensure touring teams are given state level security.

Earlier, we have shifted a match from Karachi to Lahore on one occasion to ensure best security for them.'' ''The ICC is also trying hard to assure all teams that conditions are safe to play in Pakistan and a teleconference of the executive board is to be held tomorrow. South Africa should have waited until then,'' Naghmi added.

Former Test captain Javed Miandad, however, pointed that the two bomb attacks, which killed 67 people in Wah on Thursday, had sent all the wrong signals to the participating teams who were already reluctant to play in Pakistan because of security concerns.

''These attacks could not have come at a worse time and I think other teams like Australia, New Zealand and England will also now take South Africa's line. Pakistan should now try to ensure they are not deprived of hosting rights,'' he said.

A PCB spokesman, however, was confident over the security arrangements made for the eight-nation tournament and has invited all the cricketing nations to check it personally.

UNI XC PY RAR BST1353

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