ICC news March 9, 2012

FICA calls for postponement of Pakistan tour

ESPNcricinfo staff

Tim May, the chief executive of the players' representative body Federation of International Cricketers' Association, has criticised the ICC's recommendation that it could amend rules by not sending its match officials to countries with security concerns but allowing a series in that country to continue. May was speaking in the context of a proposed bilateral series between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Pakistan, a country that hasn't hosted international cricket since the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore three years ago.

"The ICC should be doing its utmost to convince the two Boards to postpone the series, NOT contemplating whether to amend its own rules to give the series 'official endorsement'," May said in a release issued by FICA. He believed the ICC had received advise that touring Pakistan was unsafe, and therefore to allow the tour to continue was surprising.

The ICC's plan involves countries having to seek a "special dispensation" which allows them to host the bilateral series with "non-neutral match officials". The dispensation will mean a departure from the ICC's Standard Playing Conditions as it allows for "non-neutral" match officials to man the series; even if the ICC deems the series to be "unsafe" for its own officials, the tour will proceed since the final call rested with the participating countries.

"It is concerning to hear that on the one hand the ICC will not be sending its match officials, because its specialist advice is that it is not safe to tour Pakistan, but on the other hand the ICC will consider a proposal to amend the ICC Playing Conditions so as to give the series ICC recognition and endorsement.

"I am not sure how this idea even got off the ground. If the ICC cannot and will not send its officials to officiate in the series because it has been advised that it is not safe, it simply cannot contemplate any actions that will enhance the attractiveness of the series to others."

The PCB, under its new chairman Zaka Ashraf, is working hard towards bringing international cricket back to Pakistan and are hoping a short limited-overs series with Bangladesh will end the drought. Last week, a nine-member Bangladesh delegation, led by board president Mustafa Kamal, gave a nod to the security arrangements at various venues after a two-day visit.

The ICC's recommendation for the special dispensation was made at the Cricket Executives' Committee meeting and is pending approval by the ICC's Executive Board. The CEC, after its meeting in Dubai, reiterated that the ICC's role in bilateral series was "limited to considering the safety and security of the match officials after a tour had been confirmed and a security plan produced." The decision as to whether a particular tour should take place or not was, the CEC stated, "one for the participating countries."

May said the ICC should be doing more. "The ICC has a duty of care to its stakeholders - it has a duty of care to the players of teams, the officials of teams and the general public, irrespective of whether this is a bi lateral event or an ICC Event such as the World Cup.

"If it has specific information that Pakistan is not safe to tour, then it cannot and should not send a message out to these stakeholders that ICC not only recognizes this series, but has gone out of way to change its own Playing Conditions so it may endorse and promote this series."

May said FICA had commissioned its own report into the security situation in Pakistan, and the findings were unfavourable. "The ICC is not the only organization to receive a negative security report of Pakistan - FICA commissioned a report in December 2011 from an independent security consultant and the advice was very clear cut - that from a security perspective, a cricket tour to Pakistan by any team is not manageable and presents as an unacceptable security risk.

"We have a high level of empathy for the cricketers and people of Pakistan, and like all associated with the International game, hope that International cricket may return to Pakistan soon - but we must all ensure that our priorities are in order - and the number one priority is the safety of our participants, team officials and other stakeholders."

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