The Champions Trophy appears set to take place in Pakistan in September with Ray Mali, the ICC president, publicly backing Pakistan's ability to host the tournament a day before the its official launch in Lahore. However, concerns over security continue with Tim May, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), saying the situation in Pakistan had not changed since Australia postponed a planned tour there in March.
Mali, part of a ten-member delegation in Pakistan for the launch and to oversee the facilities at the tournament venues, said Pakistan's experience in hosting such events will help them put up a good show in September. "The Asia Cup [which starts next week] will give Pakistan an opportunity to rehearse for the Champions Trophy," Mali said.
The ICC delegation also held talks with the Pakistan Cricket Board over preparations for the event. "The ICC is launching the event in Lahore on Wednesday and that is an ample proof that there are no problems," Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, said. "We have made foolproof security arrangements for the event."
An ICC team of security experts visited Pakistan last month to assess whether the country was safe enough for hosting the Champions Trophy in September and were reportedly satisfied with the security arrangements.
That seems to have cut little ice with May, who believed "absolutely nothing has changed" in the three months since Australia postponed their Pakistan tour after safety concerns. "FICA is very concerned about the inherent risks of holding such an event in Pakistan in such a landscape of unrest and volatility and opposition to Western countries," he said. "FICA is not alone in its concern regarding holding this event in Pakistan, compounded by the timing of the event in terms of the religious celebration of Ramadan and the anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York."
FICA along with other players' associations, including the Australian Cricketers Association, will commission its own independent report, expected to be completed in a fortnight.
Cricket Australia will bring up any concerns it has with the ICC's security assessment at the meeting of the ICC's executive board in Dubai later this month. "The welfare of the Australian team and team management is paramount," Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said. "But we have a responsibility to world cricket and the continued development of the game as a global sport so we'd like to see the Pakistan tour succeed."
While the Asian Cricket Council was satisfied with the security arrangements in Pakistan for the upcoming Asia Cup, beginning next week, New Zealand allrounder Jacob Oram had recently expressed concerns over his team's security ahead of their three-match ODI series in Pakistan in late August.