Saturday, June 28, 2008

Security in Pakistan needs 'fine tuning' - expert

Recent touring sides have received massive amounts of security in Pakistan, but apparently not enough to guarantee a return by some.

n independent security expert, acting on behalf of three cricket boards, says some "fine tuning" is needed in certain areas before Pakistan is ready to host the ICC Champions Trophy in September this year, but feels it is "going in the right direction."

Reg Dickson, an Australian security consultant hired by Cricket Australia, the ECB and New Zealand Cricket, visited Karachi's National Stadium during Saturday's Asia Cup match between Bangladesh and India to assess the venue's security set-up.

"It's been an enlightening two to three hours. I met with Zakir Khan and some independent security consultants who have been very helpful," Dickson told reporters at the stadium. "It's a reasonable start. Some fine tuning needs to be done and everyone acknowledges that. But in time the security situation will be enhanced."

With the Asia Cup entering its final stages, as many eyes are on the security arrangements in place for the tournament as they are on the cricket. The Pakistan board has acknowledged that the Asia Cup is a dress rehearsal for the Champions Trophy.

Though the tournament is two months away, doubts have already been expressed by a number of players and teams over whether they would be comfortable playing in Pakistan. Australia, one of the countries with reservations, pulled out of a tour to Pakistan earlier this year on security grounds, though analysts acknowledge that the situation has improved since.

Dickson will only visit Karachi on this trip and is expected to submit a report to the three boards in two weeks' time. "I will be having more meetings. The tournament is still 2-3 months away."

Dickson, however, sounded cautiously optimistic about the chances of the tournament going ahead here. "I think everybody would like to play here and it is why PCB and others have put in so much work here. It's an educational tour for me and it's still a work in progress.

"We start off at a base. There is lots of security experience in this country plus international experience being brought in. Together we can see it going in the right direction."