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August 5, 2008
Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has welcomed the increasing support for holding the Champions Trophy in Pakistan. Lawson, who has repeatedly highlighted that Pakistan is a safe place to play cricket in, was happy with umpire Simon Taufel's decision to stand in the tournament.
Taufel, who last visited Pakistan for the Asia Cup in June and July, said he would not hesitate to stand in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan in September. "The voices coming from Australia and New Zealand have been positive in the last day or two," Lawson told reporters. "I am very pleased that Simon, the world's No. 1 umpire who is also an Australian, is very keen to come here."
Lawson also pointed out the comments made by Ian Chapell in his recent column. Chappell wrote: "It's fine to listen to the advice of security advisers and government officials. However, this information needs to be balanced by the fact that former Australian player Geoff Lawson coaches and lives in the country, and Imran Khan, a man of high standing in the game, among others has vouched for how sportsmen have never been targeted in Pakistan."
Pakistan haven't hosted a Test series since South Africa's visit last year, with Australia postponing their visit, due in March-April, because of security concerns. "From what I see in newspapers it is a good sign," Lawson said. "And I still say that when teams and players talk about security, they have to look at the big picture not a small one. It is about cricket in Asia and cricket in Pakistan."
Lawson is currently overseeing a few practice matches that would help determine the final squad for the three-match ODI series against New Zealand later this month, and also the Champions Trophy. "Umar Gul will be playing in the games to prove his fitness, and Shoaib Akhtar will also be back," he said. "So we will be watching their fitness closely." The first of the practice games was washed out due to seasonal rains in Lahore today, and the remaining games on the 7th and 9th also seem in doubt. The board has revised the schedule and two matches will now take place either on 8th & 10th (weather permitting) or 9th & 11th August at Gaddafi Stadium.
The ICC has so far maintained that the tournament will be held in Pakistan. A task force set up to assess and monitor the security situation in the three venues - Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi - is slated to visit the country next week.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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