England’s participation in September’s Champions Trophy will hinge on a review of Pakistan’s security plan for the tournament, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said.
The International Cricket Council’s decision to allow the tournament to go ahead despite security fears has forced the ECB to consider withdrawing from the event.
Senior players in the England squad will be consulted and shown all three security reports carried out in Pakistan over the past few months ahead of an ECB meeting on Aug. 4.
But it is the ICC’s specialist task team, who will oversee Pakistan security plans in the next three weeks, that could decide whether England’s stars will make the trip.
“We will want to have a very robust review of that [security] plan,” ECB chief executive David Collier said. “We’re in very close touch, not only with the Professional Cricketers Association, but directly with all the players. It’s very important that we are in very, very close contact over this period and clearly other boards around the world are in the same position. The safety of the players is of absolutely paramount importance and we just won’t compromise on that.”
In the aftermath of Thursday’s announcement that the tournament, which runs from Sept. 11 to Sept. 28 in Karachi, Rawalpinidi and Lahore, would go ahead as planned, several of England’s players are believed to have expressed doubts about traveling.
They may not have to worry about that if the current UK government advice, which warns of a substantial terrorist threat to Westerners in Pakistan, is maintained.
England batsman Kevin Pietersen admitted he would be loath to take part if the security risk was still high.
“For sure, I have reservations about going. Everybody has reservations about Pakistan. I have spoken to players from South Africa and West Indies and we all feel the same way,” he said. “I don’t think pressure should be put on any individual, especially when you realize your life could be at risk. It’s only a game, it’s sport, it’s my job and I am not going to risk my life for the job that I do. I will be waiting until the meeting, looking at everything and I will make a decision after that if the ECB haven’t already made one.”