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Don't abandon tour: PCB to CA

PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf warns Cricket Australia (CA) of severe consequences if it refuses to tour the country in March.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Melbourne
UPDATED ON FEB 13, 2008 04:38 PM IST

The chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Nasim Ashraf has warned Cricket Australia (CA) of severe consequences if it refuses to tour the South Asian country for security reasons, the media reported in Melbourne on Wednesday.

"It would be very damaging to Pakistan cricket and it is not just Pakistan-specific because no country in the world is safe from terrorist acts. If we start letting this dictate our sports events then I am afraid the whole world of cricket could be turned upside down and it could have serious repercussions financially and the very existence of the Future Tours Programme," Ashraf was quoted as saying by The Age.

Asked whether Pakistan could reconsider its 2009 visit if Australia abandons its tour slated for March-April, Ashraf said: "This is a premature question but we will keep all our options open. We are still very hopeful that Cricket Australia will make the right decision."

The PCB chief has made a last-ditch effort to save the tour by sending an email to CA chairman Creagh O'Connor, urging him to send a security delegation to Pakistan one week after general elections, slated for Monday.

With the two boards at an apparent impasse because of Australia's security concerns and Pakistan's refusal to countenance a neutral venue, Ashraf expressed fears that the international programme could fall apart if the world champions did not fulfil their commitments.

"We are absolutely sure that the environment to host Australia for cricket in March and April is secure, and I say that with absolutely no hesitation and a clear conscience," he said.

"In terms of actual venues, there is no problem because we can be flexible about that if CA has any reservations about a particular venue. But to call the tour off would be a very sad and also uncalled for action because it would be a reaction to the perceptions rather than the ground reality regarding sports."

CA's general manager of cricket operations, Michael Brown, said he was awaiting the outcome of the election and had asked the PCB to provide further instructions.

Both parties are adamant that CA had not indicated that it will not proceed with the tour, but the tour had appeared doomed since the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December sparked a wave of political violence.

Ashraf showed no sign of backing away from his consistent stance that the series would be played in Pakistan or not at all, while CA wants to play the three Tests and five ODIs somewhere.

If they are cancelled its players could be free to represent private franchises in the Indian Premier League.

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