Champions Trophy 2008 August 22, 2008

South Africa pull out of tournament


Top Curve
Where they stand

  • Cricket Australia: "We have considerable reservations ... The security advice does not give us any great encouragement"
  • Australian Cricketers' Association: "Our position is we can't recommend to our players they should tour Pakistan"
  • ECB: "We have got some more meetings to go through and we need to get all the information we can get on the situation before a final decision is taken"
  • Professional Cricketers' Association (England): "We've still got some very serious concerns, despite the fact that the PCB have made every effort they can to try to make it as safe as possible"
  • BCCI: "We are supporting Pakistan as the venue of the Champions Trophy. Our Indian team had taken part in the Asia Cup without any incident"
  • New Zealand Cricket Players Association: "They (security plans) are the best we've ever seen for cricket. But the fact is they are unproven and we don't know if the plans can be delivered. We need to see them demonstrated"
  • Sri Lanka Cricket: "We are prepared to host the tournament, if needed. (But) It should go ahead as scheduled in Pakistan"
  • West Indies Cricket Board: "At this stage one has to be very careful with the players' safety and what each country has put in place for their team's well being"
Bottom Curve

Pakistan's chances of hosting the Champions Trophy, which is scheduled to begin on September 12, have received a huge blow with Cricket South Africa (CSA) deciding on Friday that it will not send its team to the country, prompting fears that more national boards are likely to follow.

Australia, New Zealand and England, who have also expressed serious security concerns over touring, are yet to reaffirm their participation for the tournament. And if those countries do follow South Africa, it's learnt that efforts could be made to save the tournament by persuading Pakistan to step aside on its own and let Sri Lanka, the official alternate venue, host the event.

"There is only one way left to save the Champions Trophy and that is for Pakistan to step down on its own and let Sri Lanka host the event," a senior official associated with the tournament, told Cricinfo. "If 2-3 other teams, like Australia and New Zealand, follow South Africa, and Pakistan insists that they will host the tournament, it will have to be cancelled."

South Africa announced its decision to pull out of the event following a meeting with the ICC task force in Johannesburg on Friday. In a statement, CSA said it assessed the presentation made by the team, led by ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, as well as the information available from a number of other security reports, including one from the South African government, before arriving at a conclusion.

"After extensive discussions and frank exchange of views, the board resolved not to send our team at this time to Pakistan to participate in the ICC Champions Trophy," Norman Arendse, the CSA president, said. "We respect the right of the Pakistan Cricket Board to stage the tournament and we would urge the ICC to reschedule the tournament as soon as possible."

However, the official that Cricinfo spoke to ruled out the possibility of the event being rescheduled because "the calendar is packed for the next year and it's next to impossible to get dates from all the eight participating teams". Then again, ESPN-Star Sports, the official broadcaster, is unlikely to agree to an event with substitute teams like Bangladesh but seem willing to go ahead with the Sri Lanka option, he said.

"The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is aware that the blast on Thursday in Islamabad, which killed around 60 people, has weakened their case significantly. And Sri Lanka has repeatedly said that they are prepared to host the tournament. So it all depends on Pakistan. They could even be offered the next edition of the tournament, if that is an acceptable solution," the official said.

In such a scenario, India's position will be crucial as the BCCI has adopted a hardline stance on the issue, arguing that the tournament cannot be shifted from Pakistan on "flimsy grounds". "The Indian board has stood by Pakistan even if it means that the tournament might be cancelled. But if Pakistan agrees to stand down from its current position, the BCCI should have no problems with that," the official said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), meanwhile, said it was "deeply disappointed" by South Africa's "hasty" pullout. "We are deeply disappointed and when a decision was to be made on Sunday we think South Africa made a hasty choice," Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, told AFP. "Now it's up to the ICC to take a decision but I would say South Africa's refusal will badly hurt the event. We will still do our best to save the event and host it on schedule."

Later on Friday, members of the ICC's task force met to "discuss the feedback received from meetings with stakeholders from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa" on the tournament. "That feedback was discussed and will now be considered by the ICC Board, which is scheduled to have its own teleconference on Sunday. The task team noted the decision of Cricket South Africa not to send a team to the Champions Trophy," the ICC stated in a release.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dimithri on August 25, 2008, 3:26 GMT

    personally the sri lankan option isnt so great there is acivil war there people i am a sri lankan and believe cricket is slowly sliding pakistan need to sorten their act out by 2009

  • arif on August 24, 2008, 11:47 GMT

    I follow the remarks made by Ace_Spade that cricket players shouldn't expose themselves in front of these terrorist elements. Cricket have so far never been affected by terrorism. These western cricket nations are putting them into unecessary trouble - inviting them (terrorists) towards this very peaceful game of cricket. The tournament should held in Pakistan only.

  • Bruce on August 24, 2008, 11:28 GMT

    I must say that I'm getting really bored with the race card being thrown into every issue. Get over it! They are not pulling out on racist grounds but for safety reasons. An earlier comment stated the odds must be about 1/500, is that supposed to be reasuring?!! I've got to say that I wouldn't go anywhere if the odds of my son being left an orphan were 1 in 500, so why should cricketers - would you?. Lastly, I'm sure OZ, NZ and SA would love Pakistan to be a safe enviroment to tour and would love the challenge of playing Pakistan at home where they can focus entirely on the cricket.

  • ozone8237 on August 24, 2008, 9:56 GMT

    Today its 08/24/08.By the time my comments will be posted a decision might have been taken by Australia, England and New zealand.If those nations want to see cricket, its great fans, unity, trust, hope, and resistance! to prevail and succeed against extreamism, terrorism and evil actions then the voice of today is "UNITY". We can't be cowards and show hesitation that will just boost the terrorist activities worldwide and send a wrong message to them hey! we are scared tell us your demands we will surrender..for God's sake no! Always remember! An area of violence and chaos is more immune and safe if heavily guarded with full security (e.g green zone in Iraq)than the peaceful land where there is no unrest and violence thus, less to none level of security(e.g 9/11, 7/7, oklahoma bombing 05, Rawalpindi blast 2008 e.t.c). South Africa has already weakened our stance against terrorism Aus, Eng & New Zeeland under no circumstances should follow S.A's foot steps rather be persuaded to join us.

  • Q on August 24, 2008, 7:11 GMT

    I completely disagree with South African Teams decision to pull out from Champions trophy next month in Pakistan. They have cited security concerns in Pakistan, which is somewhat true, but the irony is that they would agree to play in Srilanka, which itself is a strife stricken country, further i would like to bring to its notice that Terrorism and Security threats are present everywhere on earth, not even America is safe nowadays, they are currently in England, who in the past too has been hit with bomb blasts. How can they (South Africans) prove that their players life are safe even in their own backyards, when everyone in the world knows that South Africa is the country with the most Crime rate. The Southafrican team's captain was here in India in Jaipur, when the Jaipur blasts occured, to play IPL, he didn't seem to flinch then, seems a Lot of Money was at stake then.

  • Jonathon on August 24, 2008, 2:12 GMT

    the situation in pakistan is more in dire straits then england with one country in complete civil unrest and the other being a decent western country.So a one off bombing england came big woop pakistan seems to have a terrorist bombing ever tuesday.In conclustion i think safety comes first comes first and i think austrlia should pull out

  • Aleem on August 24, 2008, 0:12 GMT

    I would agree with Yousuf_Umer that both Pakistan and Sri Lanka should host the event jointly.. so that not to disappoint all the cricket loving people in Pakistan, who have been waiting for this event to take place in their country since so long and so desperately. Otherwise it would be a success for the terrorists to spoil any event in any country at any time and would be failure for the whole peace loving people in the world ... Western teams should also consider that the Pakistan has no prior history of having any attack on sports man/women. And the terrorist attacks are only being targeted towards law enforcing agencies ... and the last Asia Cup event in Pakistan is a major instance of a successful cricketing event being hosted in the same cities where the Champion Trophy has been planned to be hosted.

  • Affan on August 23, 2008, 22:23 GMT

    I don't see a problem in Pakistan. The odds of having any trouble in Pakistan have lowered a bit. And the odds of having an incident with cricket players? I think its 1/500. If players hype the security fears too much, then the "bad guys" will target them, thinking (actually, knowing they're very scared. They should go ahead as planned. Now I don't understand South Africa. They toured Pakistan in 2007, and now they're scared. All the non-asian countries have security fears, which isn't a good sign. Pakistan and India are neighboring countries. If all the major players visited India during th IPL, why not visit Pakistan? I don't see any reason to be scared. If the players act so tough on the field, then toughen up and go to Pakistan, NOW!

  • Babar on August 23, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    They have just been the first team to announce that and now the other teams will follow.These countries don´t want to promote cricket in Asia.In these times no place is safe, but when it comes to Pakistan, it becomes so difficult for white teams to go there.And I don't understand why the BCCI has to interfere in every damn issue? They think that they are the owner of cricket. With all due respect to Pakistan,heir adamant stance on the safety of the count. It was just a matter of time before we heard this ridiculous decision from the white teams.Funny how it's only the predominantly white teams .

  • K. on August 23, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    Safety comes first and foremost. No security plan, no matter how elaborate, can guarantee the safety and well of Pakistanis and/or visitors at this time of uncertainty prevalent in Pakistan. It provides the terrorists the stage to commit their dastardly and atrocious acts. South Africa has made the right decision. Others should follow suit. The PCB must agree to hold the tournament in another venue.

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