LAHORE: Pakistan will host the Champions Trophy in September provided there are no safety and security fears, Acting chief executive of International Cricket Council (ICC) Dave Richardson said here on Wednesday.
Dave Richardson was speaking ahead of the launching ceremony of the biennial event which Pakistan hosts from September 11-28.
“At this point in time we are comfortable with the decision that Pakistan has the ability to host the Champions Trophy but we will continue to monitor security as it is fluid like anywhere in the world,” Richardson said.
The top eight Test playing countries — Australia, South Africa, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the West Indies — will compete in the Trophy, regarded as the second biggest event after the World Cup.
The ICC last month assessed security measures at the three cities — Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi — which will host the matches and a report will be put before its board meeting starting in Dubai on June 29.
“It is impossible to say that any country would be the final to host an event. Things can change and I think it is wrong to say that there is any question of a deadline but our board will take a decision on that,” said Richardson.
Touring Pakistan has been a security concern for several foreign teams, especially Australia which postponed its March-April tour this year after a series of suicide bomb blasts.
However February’s national elections and formation of a new government have improved the security situation which prompted Australia to reschedule the tour into two visits, with the five-match one-day series in 2009 and Tests in 2010.
Richardson, a former South African wicket-keeper batsman, agreed there may still be security concerns in Pakistan.
“I think that it is safe to say that there may be some players, organisations and member countries who might express some concerns from time to time over the safety situation in Pakistan,” he said.
“It must be remembered that safety and security of players, teams, official and spectators is always the concern of the ICC. This one is no exception, the ICC will take no chance on safety and security of those stakeholders.”
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Association chief executive Tim May on Tuesday criticised the decision to hold the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, given the security situation in the country.
Richardson said Pakistan had the responsibility to host the event in a safe environment.
“The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and ICC have put together a process that is able to deal with the security situation and would enable us to monitor the situation on daily basis from now and until to the conclusion of the event,” said Richardson.
PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi said Pakistan would ensure a successful Trophy.
“The Pakistan government has promised foolproof security arrangements, so we are up to it and since people are passionate about cricket, the event will be well attended and successful,” said Naghmi.
Sri Lanka is the alternate venue in case the event has to be shifted from Pakistan. The 2006 tournament was held in India.