Pakistan cricket March 13, 2008

Lawson fears for Champions Trophy

Khalid Hussain

Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson feels that Australia's postponing the tour of Pakistan has set a bad example © AFP

Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson has said that Australia's decision to avoid touring Pakistan may have a disastrous affect on the Champions Trophy, which is scheduled to be held in Pakistan in September.

"I'm fearful for the Champions Trophy," Lawson said. "The Australians have set a bad example by opting out of the tour and I'm not sure whether they would come here for the Champions Trophy."

Australia were supposed to play three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 international in March-April but they eventually pulled out of the commitment, citing security concerns in the wake of a series of suicide bombings in various parts of the country.

Lawson said that there was a possibility that other leading teams might follow suit. There were fears that if one or more competing teams raised any security fears then the International Cricket Council (ICC) might decide to move the Champions Trophy out of Pakistan. With Sri Lanka, the back-up hosts for the Champions Trophy also battling an insurgency by Tamil rebels, there was a likelihood that the Champions Trophy might eventually fall in the lap of South Africa. Earlier this year, the ICC was forced to take away the Women's World Cup Qualifiers from Pakistan after competing teams raised safety concerns. The tournament was later held in South Africa.

"Hopefully, things will get better and the tournament will be held in Pakistan according to schedule," Lawson said. On a positive note, Lawson said that he and his charges were setting their sights on the home series against Bangladesh next month. On the request of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Bangladesh agreed to play five ODIs and a Twenty20 game in April.

"It's great to know that Bangladesh have no security concerns," Lawson said. "They can be a tough team to beat," he added. Pakistan sole assignment in 2008 so far has been a five-match ODI series against Zimbabwe at home. The hosts made a 5-0 clean sweep in the series that failed to produce any exciting cricket.

Critics are expecting a similar rout of Bangladesh but Lawson said that his team would not be taking anything for granted. "Bangladesh have proved time and again that they are capable of producing upsets and I'm sure they would be a much tougher side than Zimbabwe."