ICC deploys Lawson to convince players
Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has been recruited by the ICC to try and ensure that the best players turn up for the Champions Trophy, to be held in September in Lahore and Karachi.
Lawson, who has been a consistent advocate for international teams coming to play in the country, left Pakistan for Australia in the early hours of this morning. He will also visit New Zealand and will be gone for approximately 12 days, addressing the nations' concerns as part of an ICC task force.
"The ICC made the request about ten days ago," Mansoor Suhail, a PCB spokesman, told Cricinfo. "He has been living here and he is Australian so it is a good thing. He will go meet players and tell them what it is like here."
Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, said later that the Lawson move had been a spontaneous one. "Geoff Lawson offered to join us," he said. "He lives in Lahore so he has a better sense of what is transpiring in Pakistan. He has decided to join us and go and talk to those players, member boards and convey his confidence to those people. It wasn't an invitation from the task force. It was just some people discussing it personally and thought it might be worthwhile him going."
The trip is to be funded by the ICC's task force, which has been in Pakistan assessing venues and security arrangements ahead of the tournament. "It is a very logical thing to do," Suhail said. "They are funding the trip and hopefully it will assuage the concerns of leading players and convince them to come here."
Lorgat said on Monday that the task force would visit Australia, New Zealand and England in an attempt to convince the players to tour Pakistan. One group, which will be led by the ICC's David Richardson, will meet with Cricket Australia on Friday, with Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke representing the team.
Creagh O'Connor, the Cricket Australia chairman, James Sutherland, the chief executive, and Paul Marsh, the Australian Cricketers' Association chief executive, will also be part of the proceedings. New Zealand officials will be visited on Thursday while another ICC group, headed by Lorgat, will go to England, where South Africa are playing, early next week.
The task force has taken considerable input from Lawson as well as David Dwyer, the team trainer and another Australian, during their time in Lahore. Lawson had recently expressed delight over the "positive voices" coming from Australia and New Zealand, after umpire Simon Taufel said he was willing to tour and Ian Chappell, the former Australian captain, made remarks supportive of playing in Pakistan.
Following the ICC board's decision last month to go ahead with the tournament in Pakistan, players' associations in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa had raised concerns over the security situation, even warning of a possible boycott. Similar doubts were echoed by the international captains Graeme Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Ricky Ponting.