Sunday, August 24, 2008

Clarke backs Champions Trophy postponement

Kevin Pietersen: 'This is a huge decision and cricket can now take priority again'.

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB], has backed the ICC's decision to postpone the Champions Trophy until 2009.

"The ECB supports the decision of the ICC to postpone the Champions Trophy until October 2009," Clarke said in a statement on Sunday. "The ECB made it clear to ICC Chief executive Haroon Lorgat at a meeting at Lord's last week that the ECB had a duty to care for England players and officials as well as a desire to ensure the interests of the media and spectators were not compromised."

Following the withdrawal of South Africa from the tournament last week, and widespread security concerns over travelling to Pakistan, the ECB were under pressure to avoid a situation whereby the decision would be made by the players, not the board. Before he was named the new England captain, Kevin Pietersen insisted that he had "reservations - 100% - about going to Pakistan". Such concerns, however, have now been averted for the time being.

"The ECB explained their reservations and security concerns about staging the tournament in the aftermath of the resignation of the Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, last Monday. These concerns were shared by four other competing countries at yesterday's teleconference," Clarke said in a statement.

"The ECB recognises the outstanding efforts of the Pakistan Cricket Board in attempting to mitigate the risks surrounding the Champions Trophy and I will be meeting with the incoming chairman of the PCB, once an appointment is made, to discuss ways that our two boards can work together in the future."

Pietersen, meanwhile, has also supported the tournament's postponement. "This is a huge decision and cricket can now take priority again," he said. "All the players I know personally from other countries have expressed their concerns in terms of safety and security. It was good that this decision was taken out of our players' hands."