- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) - Pakistan will host international cricket tours again but not in the immediate future, International Cricket Council president David Morgan said Thursday.

Morgan said the ICC would not abandon Pakistan, and would work to prevent its isolation from international cricket, but could not contemplate sending teams there until it saw significant improvements in safety and security.

On March 3, the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by gunmen in Lahore. Six policemen and a bus driver were killed and several members of the team were wounded.

The ICC last year postponed the Champions Trophy scheduled limited-overs tournament in Pakistan after competing nations expressed security fears.

“Quite clearly Pakistan is not a country where we can send cricket teams, officials and supporters in the immediate future,” Morgan said. “There needs to be a significant change in the levels of safety and security.

“Having said that, Pakistan is an extremely important member of the International Cricket Council. It has produced some of the world’s greatest cricketers and still has a strong team. The ICC’s policy is that it must not become isolated.”

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said despite current security concerns, there was “no reason” to think Pakistan would not one day receive touring teams.

“If you look back at other countries in the world, I am thinking of Ireland where it was not so safe in years gone by, we have to be optimistic and be positive,” he said. “The scenarios change and someday in the future we will be back in Pakistan.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand Cricket will propose that at least some of the matches it is due to play in Pakistan later this year be moved to New Zealand.

New Zealand is due to play three tests and five one-day internationals at Pakistan in November and December, but has already indicated that tour is unlikely to take place.

Justin Vaughan, chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said he will talk with Pakistan officials at next month’s ICC board meeting in Dubai and raise the possibility of moving some of the scheduled matches to New Zealand in November.

“Playing some of the games in New Zealand is something we can put on the table when we talk to the Pakistan people to see what their thoughts are,” Vaughan said.

He said if the matches did not go ahead in New Zealand, they would likely be played in the United Arab Emirates.

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