Champions Trophy postponed
The International Cricket Council board has unanimously agreed to postpone the Champions Trophy, scheduled to take place next month in Pakistan, until October 2009.
Pakistan remain the host nation for the tournament, but the ICC maintains the right to review the situation “if other members continued to express reservations over issues of safety and security”.
The decision was taken today after a teleconference between ICC board members, who will meet again in September to discuss details of the postponement.
The eight-team tournament was due to take place from September 12-28 but South Africa had already pulled out because of security concerns, while players’ associations from Australia and New Zealand had expressed reservations about playing in Pakistan at the present time.
Current holders Australia and number three ranked New Zealand were advised by their players’ associations not to travel to Pakistan in the current political climate.
The world governing body, therefore, deemed it “prudent” to delay the event.
ICC president David Morgan said: “There was complete support and sympathy for the Pakistan Cricket Board and the situation it finds itself in, which is not of its making.
“However, there was also a realisation that, under the current circumstances, some of the teams due to compete in the ICC Champions Trophy had reservations about touring there which could not be removed.
“In those circumstances it was considered prudent to postpone the event to October 2009, a time when we all hope conditions may be more acceptable for all the competing teams.
“It was agreed Pakistan would retain the right to host the event next year but that if, at a certain time, any members still had reservations then the ICC’s board would have the right to relocate the event.”
Sri Lanka was named as back-up venue last winter but India and Pakistan maintained their stance it should remain in its original location despite recent suicide bombings in the country.
Morgan acknowledged little could be done to make sure the competition could take place next month.
He told Sky Sports News: “Had we decided a month ago I’m sure the tournament would be taking place in Sri Lanka.
“But the amount of time it’s taken for the participating nations to come to their decision not to attend has reduced the time between today and start of tournament.
“It was just impossible to relocate and stage a world-class tournament."
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat agreed that rescheduling the competition this year would have proved almost impossible given commitments already in place.
He said: “Every one of our members wishes to ensure the ICC Champions Trophy is a world-class event and the prospect of relocating it at short notice in order to make sure it was played this year would not allow that criterion to be fulfilled.
“Today’s agreement provides clarity for our members and in September we will look to put in place a timeframe for arrangements ahead of the event taking place in 2009.”
The tournament’s scheduling was altered earlier this month with Rawalpindi removed as a venue, leaving Lahore and Karachi as the two bases for the eight teams.
But the South African board announced they would not be sending a team on Friday after advice from security experts and their own government.
England were due to play Sri Lanka in their Group B opener in Lahore on September 14 before meeting New Zealand at the same venue three days later.
England’s last group game was scheduled to be against South Africa in Karachi on September 21, with the final in Lahore on September 28.