Aus, NZ concerned about touring Pak next year

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The Islamabad blasts, which killed about 60 people in Pakistan has left the Australians and New Zealanders recalling their security concerns.

Updated: September 23, 2008 17:48 IST
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The Islamabad blasts, which killed about 60 people in Pakistan has left the Australians and New Zealanders recalling their security concerns which prompted them to raise concern for Champions Trophy in the trouble-torn country.

Australia and New Zealand were two countries which were more vocal about their reservation of touring Pakistan last month after earlier bomb attack outside Islamabad.

But now they stand vindicated as had the Champions Trophy gone as per scheduled, the England and South African teams may have been staying at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad when it the suicide bomb turned the building into debris last Saturday night.

England would have played South Africa in Rawalpindi on Sunday, while Australia would have locked horns with the West Indies in Karachi.

Generally teams playing in Rawalpindi stay in Islamabad, where traditionally Marriott hotel is used by touring teams.

Cricket security expert Reg Dickason, who worked with the Australia team for a decade and also the England and New Zealand teams, has confirmed yesterday that the Pakistan Cricket Board wanted the Australian team to stay there during its Test and one-day tour scheduled for last March and April.

Dickason claims he advised against staying at the Marriott because the hotel and its restaurant, were too close to the road. He also wrote a strong report warning against playing the Champions Trophy in Pakistan.

"This is an absolute tragedy," Dickason was quoted as saying in the Australian.

"This graphically demonstrates the fragility and dangerous security situation of Pakistan at the moment. Sadly it has vindicated the decision not to tour Pakistan," he said.

While Rawalpindi was removed as a Champions Trophy venue, leaving only Lahore and Karachi, Dickason believes the September 12-28 tournament would probably have been abandoned after the bombing had it gone ahead.

Dickason was strongly criticised by the PCB, while the ICC claimed the risk was "manageable".

Dickason wrote the strongest of the four reports commissioned on the Champions Trophy, which was used by Cricket Australia (CA), New Zealand Cricket and the England Cricket Board to ultimately the oppose Pakistan as a venue.

However, South Africa, on government security advice, was the first team to officially pull out of the tournament.

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