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SA to consider revised itinerary

South African cricket authorities, who cancelled at the weekend a tour to Pakistan because of security concerns, are to meet on Tuesday to discuss a revised itinerary.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2003 17:50 IST

South African cricket authorities, who cancelled at the weekend a tour to Pakistan because of security concerns, are to meet on Tuesday to discuss a revised itinerary.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said it will claim damages of approximately $7 million from the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) if it does not reverse its decision to cancel the tour.

The UCBSA confirmed in a media release on Monday that it had received a letter from PCB chief executive Rameez Raja in which alternative tour fixtures were offered.

"We understand how much this tour means to Pakistan and we have always done everything we could to ensure the tour could go ahead," UCBSA chief executive Gerald Majola said.

"We will continue to make every effort to find alternatives that do not pose an unacceptable level of risk to our national team."

South Africa has been particularly concerned about matches scheduled for Karachi and Peshawar, near the border with Afghanistan, following consultation with safety and security consultants and South Africa's High Commissioner in Karachi.

The tour was given a final go-ahead last week, but the UCB subsequently decided to call it off because of a bomb blast in Karachi on Friday.

VENUES DROPPED

However the revised tour itinerary drops Karachi and Peshawar as match venues, limiting the two tests and three one-day matches to Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad.

Majola is to discuss the amended itinerary with his management committee on Tuesday and will also receive a full briefing from security consultants.

South Africa coach Eric Simons and captain Graeme Smith will also be included in the process and the committee will consult the South African government before any decision is taken.

"We made a decision on Saturday, based on information from our security consultants who had also been in contact with intelligence agencies," Majola said.

"That information was that the situation in Pakistan, particularly following a bomb blast in Karachi on Friday evening, meant that sending our team to Karachi on Sunday as planned would have constituted an unacceptable risk.

"We will continue to assess the security situation and will look at it specifically in relation to the proposed alternative fixtures."

Pakistan's stand-in captain Inzamam-ul-Haq made a last-ditch plea on Monday for South Africa to go ahead with the abbreviated tour.

GOING ON

"Cricket must not stop in Pakistan," Inzamam told Reuters in Karachi.

"In the last two years, Pakistan has already lost a lot of international cricket at home. The South Africans don't want to play at Karachi or Peshawar, but the tour must go on with matches at other venues."

South Africa had initially been scheduled to play three one-day internationals and three tests, at Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, between September 26 and October 27.

Pakistan has been a no-go zone for most cricketing nations since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

In May 2002, a suicide bomb outside a Karachi hotel where the New Zealand team were staying prompted a cancellation of the tour.

India called off a tour in April because of tensions over the disputed state of Kashmir.

First Published: Sep 22, 2003 17:40 IST