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March 19, 2008
The ICC has confirmed Sri Lanka will be an alternate venue to host the ICC Champions Trophy in September this year. This decision comes in the wake of Australia postponing their tour to Pakistan on the grounds of security reasons.
If Australia's apprehensions about the security situation in Pakistan don't change in the next few months, the ICC could be faced with a situation where they will have to decide on switching venues. Australia and New Zealand have raised the most concerns, sources said.
"We have named Sri Lanka an alternative venue," an ICC spokesperson told Cricinfo. "As of now, Pakistan will host the tournament and we don't intend to take it away from them."
Sri Lanka last hosted the tournament in 2002 and the ICC expressed satisfaction with regard to all the arrangements and support they received from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
In a new development, the board is likely to be caught in a Catch 22 situation whether to oblige the Pakistan Cricket Board and play a series of three to five ODIs in Pakistan next month, a decision which may upset the Indian board because it will clash with the much anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) which is due to start on April 18. Several of Sri Lanka's top cricketers have signed for the tournament. If Sri Lanka agree to Pakistan's request, their one-day squad will fly directly from the West Indies to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the selection committee is due to meet the Cricket Committee headed by former Sri Lankan batsman Aravinda de Silva today to finalise the tour and player contracts for the next 12 months. Among the clauses that are due to be included in the contracts are for players to be accompanied by their wives on tour, and also to make it compulsory for the cricketers to play domestic cricket to be eligible for national selection.
The latter clause could jeopardise the players from signing up to play for English counties and for the IPL, both of which would require sanction from SLC. It is learnt that the Sri Lankan players, currently touring the Caribbean, are not happy with this clause, but highly-placed sources said the Cricket Committee is strongly pressing for its inclusion.
Why the Indian opener would be well advised to shelve the hook and pull in Australia