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Ponting apprehensive over tour

The Australian captain admitted on Friday that his team is concerned about security when it tours Pakistan in September for Champions Trophy.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, Sydney
UPDATED ON JUN 20, 2008 11:27 PM IST

Australian captain Ricky Ponting admitted on Friday that his team is concerned about security in Pakistan when it tours the country in September for Champions Trophy.

Ponting’s qualms are the latest addition to the growing worries that players from around the world have in visiting Pakistan in the muslim holy month of Ramadan in September. Coincidentally, the event begins on September 11, which will mark seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America.

“You don't have to be an Einstein to figure there will be some concern among our team members. It's not just because we're Australian cricketers. Anyone travelling to Pakistan would have some sort of concern,” Ponting was quoted as saying in The Australian on Friday. Several leading Australian cricketers have reportedly said they would stand down from the most prestigious limited-overs tournament of the year rather than tour a nation they consider volatile and unsafe.

Australia called off their March-April Test and one-day tour and the players are wary about playing in the unsettled country so soon. “We’ll see what eventuates in the coming weeks. It would be great for the game and great for Pakistan if the tournament goes ahead,” he said.

Ponting’s concerns have been shared much more strongly by player associations in Australia, New Zealand and England, and the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA). FICA chief executive Tim May told The Australian on Monday that “absolutely nothing” had changed in Pakistan since Australia abandoned their tour three months ago. Ponting said no player would be forced to tour if the team receives clearance to compete in the Champions Trophy.

“We all know you're expected to go, as per contract terms, if selected for the tour, but it will come down to the individual and what he feels at the time,” Ponting said.

“Hopefully, by that stage we'll have a lot more informed opinions. There hasn’t been any talk about it at the moment, but you only have to turn the clock back a few months to understand there were some concerns then.

“It is going to be up to people in higher places to decide if it is any better than it was three or four months ago.” Australian security consultant Reg Dickson will visit the strife-torn country to assess the security situation.

Rule to reduce interval gets ICC nod

London: Officials have moved quickly to avoid another abandoned game in England's one-day series with New Zealand by amending rules to allow for a shorter innings interval. Wednesday’s game at Edgbaston was declared a no result because of persistent rain. The match had initially been reduced from 50 to 24 overs a side. When the players walked off, New Zealand had only needed to face one more over to have the match count. Many blamed the required 30-minute interval between the innings for the abandonment.

Pawar leaves the ball in ECB court on ICL issue

New Delhi: BCCI president Sharad Pawar said the England and Wales Cricket Board was free to allow the English county — that participates in the Champions League — to include players connected with the unofficial ICL. Pawar, however, warned that the Indian cricket board could take up the issue later. Around 25 ICL cricketers are featuring in 15 of ECB’s 18 counties this season.

"They have the freedom to take a decision on the teams they choose to represent them. But then, we also have the freedom to take our decision on the issue later," Pawar said.

Asif arrives in Pakistan

Karachi: Mohammad Asif arrived home on Friday after Dubai prosecutors dropped charges against him. The pacer said he was grateful to the PCB for not abandoning him in Dubai.

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