Nasim Ashraf: "We are very confident our cricket will continue. The Asia Cup is very much on towards the end of June"...
Despite Australia's decision to postpone their tour to Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) remains confident that future international commitments in the country will go ahead as scheduled.
Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, said he was particularly disappointed Australia made the decision without sending a security team, as had been planned, to assess the situation in Pakistan. "Our consistent plea has been that at least the ground situation here should be assessed by Cricket Australia, but they said that they had made independent assessments and the decision was based on that," Ashraf told Cricinfo.
Hours before the decision was made, two suicide blasts rocked Lahore, killing at least 20 people. Once thought to be a safe venue - it was on the itinerary for the Australia series - this was the fourth attack in the city this year, highlighting just how much the situation has deteriorated.
Ashraf, however, pointed to recent international tours as proof cricket and cricketers remain unaffected. "Our position is that these blasts have been happening for the last two years. That hasn't changed now and we have had four international tours to Pakistan recently, including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia A. These are tragic incidents and paint a bad picture of the country, but they are targeted specifically at security institutions."
Pakistan is set to host the Asia Cup towards the end of June - the Indian and Sri Lankan boards have confirmed they will take part, though that was before Australia's decision. As for the ICC Champions Trophy in October and the Asia Cup, assignments which may be affected by Australia's pull-out and the generally unstable security environment in the country, Ashraf remained confident that they will go ahead as scheduled.
"We are very confident our cricket will continue. The Asia Cup is very much on towards the end of June. Arjuna Ranatunga [Sri Lanka Cricket chairman] and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will be here soon to finalise plans for that," Ashraf said. "The Champions Trophy is on soon after that and the ICC will also try and ensure that all teams take part in that. India are due to come here at the end of the year as well."
The board is also working on plans to fill up their calendar over the coming months now that Australia has pulled out. They are in talks with Bangladesh for a series of ODIs in April, as well as a possible tri-series in August. "We are confident Bangladesh will come over in April and we are trying to get two international teams over for a tri-series after that.
"A number of teams will want practice before the Champions Trophy so we are looking to invite sides over in the window before it as well."
Australia postpones Pakistan tour
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Posted by Faizan Rasool at 7:51 AM