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Sunday, June 22, 2008
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ICC Champions Trophy Pakistan 2008

Vettori dispels concerns

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori did his best Friday to allay growing security concerns about staging the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in Pakistan this year.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has said he doesn't yet know if his side will travel to Pakistan for the September 11-28 event and raised the prospect of individual withdrawals even if the title-holders do decide to send a team.

"We don't know if we're going. And if we do go, we don't know if individuals are going to pull out," Ponting was quoted as saying in Australian newspapers.

"It just won't be Australian players. There will be a few other teams who will be thinking long and hard if the tour does go ahead.

"I'm sure a lot of the New Zealand players who have been confronted with this stuff before, in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, will have some pretty serious concerns."

Australia put off a March-April tour of Pakistan after several of their players hesitated after a series of suicide bombings in the run-up to Pakistan's national elections.

Vettori toured Pakistan in 2002 when a bomb exploded opposite New Zealand's hotel in Karachi.

But the left-arm spinner said that if the security arrangements in place when he returned to Pakistan in 2003 were introduced for the Champions Trophy this would calm a lot of fears.

"I was there when the bomb went off outside our hotel and I went back a year later on tour and the security they put forward that time was immense and overwhelming," Vettori said.

"I did feel safe so if they could promise that level of security it would appease a lot of guys," he added ahead of the third one-day international against England here Saturday.

New Zealand are set to discuss the security situation in Pakistan with their board chief executive, Justin Vaughan, when he arrives in London, where the final two one-dayers of this five-match series take place, next week.

England coach Peter Moores, in contrast to Ponting's very public concerns, said his team would take their cue from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

"At the moment we haven't discussed it and we'll wait to see what pans out," Moores said. "We've had other things to discuss so it's not been on the agenda at all at the moment.

"We'll wait and see what is said and if that's where we're going and we'll take our advice from the ECB."

ICC acting chief executive Dave Richardson said on Wednesday that Pakistan would host the Champions Trophy in September provided there were no safety and security fears.

But the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations chief executive Tim May was reported on Monday as saying "absolutely nothing" had changed in Pakistan since Australia abandoned its tour three months ago.

The Champions Trophy, this year's leading international 50 overs per side event, is due to start on the seventh anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks on the United States.

And former Australia off-spinner May said security risks to players and officials had also been "compounded" by the decision to hold the event during the Muslim religious festival of Ramadan "in such a landscape of unrest and volatility and opposition to western countries."

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