Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clark ready for decision on Pakistan

Stuart Clark wishes a decision on Australia taking part in the Champions Trophy was made two weeks ago.

The waiting for an official word on whether to tour Pakistan for the Champions Trophy next month is nagging at Stuart Clark, the Australia fast bowler. David Richardson, the ICC general manager of cricket, will lead a delegation in Australia on Friday that will try to convince the players and officials to take part in the tournament. A similar exercise was completed in New Zealand on Thursday.

However, Clark said he wished a decision had been made two weeks ago. "At least there would be closure," he said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "You hear about Australia closing its embassies in Pakistan, what are you supposed to think? And the back-up country has its own problems."

If the Champions Trophy, which is due to start on September 12, is not held in Pakistan it could be staged in Sri Lanka, which is also a place of risk for travellers, according to the Australian government's advice. There have been bomb blasts in Pakistan this week and the Herald Sun reported warnings of more suicide attacks in the cities of Lahore and Karachi, which will host all the Champions Trophy matches.

Clark says he can't make a decision until he hears from Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association. "Once again I'm going to have to look at that report and see what it says," he told AAP. "I can't commit either way at the moment.

"If we do go it'll be on the basis of that all has been taken care of and that unease factor will hopefully be removed. There's obviously something going on although I'm only hearing it second hand."

Clark, who visited the country on Australia A duty in 2005, said if the tournament was cancelled he hoped it would not mean a long break for tours to Pakistan. "It's very important that that part of the world keeps playing cricket," he said.

"Obviously those countries are struggling, but if it doesn't happen I hope they do whatever they need to rectify the situation." Australia have not visited Pakistan since 1998, playing the 2002-03 series in Sharjah and Sri Lanka, and postponing the Test and one-day contests which were due to occur last March and April.