Pakistan news January 23, 2013

FICA warning could hurt Pakistan league - Lorgat

Haroon Lorgat, the former ICC chief executive who is an advisor to the Pakistan Super League (PSL), has said FICA's warning to players not to travel to Pakistan because of security concerns could adversely impact the tournament. Lorgat, however, said the reality of the ground situation in Lahore was different from common perceptions.

"It's unfortunate, there are many players who will be undecided and when a statement is negative, it doesn't help," Lorgat said of FICA's comments. "It doesn't help the confidence of some players. Fortunately there are many who have already committed and who are confident … they trust the assurance given by the PCB.

"I think the statement is not against the PSL, it's about the safety situation in Pakistan. While we understand that sort of a statement from the players association, I don't think we necessarily agree with it. Here I'm sitting again, in Lahore, and I understand the situation on the ground in Lahore. There's been a very good response across the globe by broadcasters who are keen and interested, and who are currently studying the detailed document. We are confident the league will happen on March 26. There's a lot of interest from players as well. We know what the challenges are, it's reality, but we will overcome those challenges."

Tim May, the FICA chief, had said most cricketers would heed the advice not to travel to Pakistan. "The security consultants came back and said that the risk of touring Pakistan in a cricketing sense is unmanageable," he said. "I haven't spoken directly to any players but the feedback we are getting from player associations throughout the world is that players are very appreciative and understanding of the advice. We can't force the players not to go but I think you'll find the majority, if not all, of current international cricketers will heed that advice and, unfortunately for Pakistan, not participate in this event this year."

The PCB said it did not recognise FICA and would not enter into discussions with them, dealing directly with the member boards instead. However, the Pakistan board did not reveal which foreign players had expressed interest in the PSL and said they would make an announcement once the pool was ready.

"Our stated position on FICA is very clear, we don't recognise them, so when we don't endorse them it makes no sense to go into discussions with them at any level," PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed said. "As far as we are concerned we have no direct relationship with FICA.

"ICC's defined process is very clear, whether a player is approached directly or through the board, we have approached various boards but obviously without NOC we will not allow players to come. We have written to various boards and we are confident that players will come to the league."

The PCB has not announced a venue for the PSL but ESPNcricinfo has learned the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore is one of the leading options and that the board is already in talks with the Punjab government regarding security. The PCB has also engaged an independent security agency to assist in the arrangements.

Pakistan has not hosted international cricket since terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009. Since then they have had to play their 'home' matches at offshore venues such as England and the UAE.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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