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Aus postpone Pak tour after blasts

The PCB and CA chairmen will meet in Dubai next weekend to further discuss dates for the deferred tour, reports said.
AFP | By Shahid Hashmi, Karachi
UPDATED ON MAR 11, 2008 06:22 PM IST

Australia have scrapped their upcoming cricket tour to Pakistan over security fears, their cricket boards said in a statement on Tuesday, after bombs killed 20 people in the eastern city of Lahore.

"I can confirm they have conveyed to us that they have cancelled the tour. We are disappointed and we are issuing a policy statement soon," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Shafqat Nagmi told AFP.

The tour was due to begin on March 29 and Lahore was one of the venues where Australia were due to play.

"Cricket Australia and the Pakistan Cricket Board have announced that the Australian cricket team tour to Pakistan scheduled for March-April 2008 has been postponed," the joint statement by the boards said.

It added: "New dates for the tour will be decided in the near future."

The chairmen of the two boards -- the PCB's Nasim Ashraf and CA's Creagh O'Connor -- will meet in Dubai next weekend to further discuss possible dates for the deferred tour, it said.

Both the boards agreed that it would not be possible to reschedule the series soon.

"The ICC future tours programme is complex and changes require extensive consultation with other member boards with whom Australia and Pakistan have existing commitments. This process will be undertaken over coming weeks," the statement said.

Commenting on the decision, CA chairman O'Connor said: "We are very sorry that the tour could not take place at this time."

"This was a difficult decision based on independent review of the circumstances prevailing in Pakistan at the moment."

"We wish no loss to Pakistan Cricket Board and look forward to undertaking this tour in the near future."

Ashraf said: "We are obviously very disappointed at this decision. I guess there is not much we could do and sincerely hope that the tour of Australia to Pakistan can materialise at the earliest opportunity."

Pakistan had ruled out the possibility of shifting the tour to a neutral venue like it did in 2002 following Australia's refusal to play in Pakistan over security fears in Pakistan.

That series was played in Sri Lanka and Sharjah.

The latest tour has been in serious doubts since the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December last year.

Several Australian players, including all-rounder Andrew Symonds and paceman Brett Lee, showed reservations over touring the troubled country.

However, Australian captain Ricky Ponting last month said that the players would have to honour their contracts if the tour was cleared by a CA security team.

CA agreed to shorten the tour to two Tests and three one-day internationals after negotiations with the PCB officials on the sidelines of Junior World Cup held in Malaysia last month.

The security team's delegation also became doubtful after a blast at the Naval War College in Lahore last week.

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