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Pak slams 'hasty' SA trophy boycott

Hosts Pakistan criticised SA's "hasty" decision to skip next month's Champions Trophy and says it would badly hurt the eight-nation event.

cricket Updated: Aug 22, 2008 19:34 IST

Hosts Pakistan on Friday criticised South Africa's "hasty" decision to skip next month's Champions Trophy and said it would badly hurt the eight-nation event.

The September 12-28 tournament now looks likely to be relocated or postponed over security fears when the International Cricket Council (ICC) meets on the matter on Sunday.

"We are deeply disappointed and when a decision was to be made on Sunday we think South Africa made a hasty choice," Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told AFP.

Naghmi was in Dubai to make a last ditch effort to save the tournament after players' associations from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and England urged their cricketers not to tour the troubled country.

Cricket South Africa's decision came a day after a double suicide bombing outside a huge arms factory near Islamabad, the deadliest attack on a military site in Pakistan's history, killed 64 people.

"After extensive discussions and a frank exchange of views, the board resolved not to send our team at this time to Pakistan to participate in the ICC Champions Trophy," Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse said in a statement.

"We respect the right of the Pakistan Cricket Board to stage the tournament and we would urge the ICC to reschedule the tournament as soon as possible," added Arendse.

But Naghmi said South Africa was a major cricketing nation and its refusal to take part would hurt the event badly.

"Now it's up to the ICC to take a decision which they would take on Sunday but I would say that South Africa's refusal will badly hurt the event. We will still do our best to save the event and host it on schedule," he said.

Naghmi said South Africa's decision was more surprising due to the fact that they toured Pakistan only last year.

"We made the best security arrangements for South Africa when they toured us last year and it was only at the end that they did not want to play in Karachi so we relocated the match to Multan," said Naghmi.

South Africa toured Pakistan in October-November last year to play two Tests and five one-day internationals. They did not travel to Karachi to play the final limited overs international due to a bomb blast in the southern port city.

South Africa also toured Pakistan in 2003.

The ICC said Cricket South Africa had conveyed its decision to them.

"The ICC has noted CSA's decision and will not make any further comment until the ICC board meeting on Sunday," an ICC spokesman told AFP.

The ICC last month said it would keep the Trophy in Pakistan and appointed an eight-man task force to oversee security arrangements.

The task force visited Pakistan from August 10-12 before it toured Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa in two different batches to brief the officials and players' associations.

However the wavering foreign teams' countries said the task force had failed to allay their fears.