- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

LONDON (AP) — Cricket’s governing body will review Pakistan’s status as co-host of the 2011 World Cup following the deadly terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team.

The International Cricket Council said Tuesday that national teams would be reluctant to play in Pakistan in the foreseeable future. The violence in Lahore left seven players, an umpire and a coach wounded and six police officers and a driver dead.

“On many occasions we have been told that cricketers would never be targeted in Pakistan,” ICC chairman David Morgan said. “This morning’s events have proved that to be quite incorrect.”

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A dozen men attacked the Sri Lankan team bus on its journey to the stadium for the third day of the second test against the host nation. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene praised his team’s driver for not panicking despite the vehicle being peppered with 25 bullet holes.

“We owe the team bus driver our lives for his remarkable bravery in the face of direct gunfire,” Jayawardene said.

Morgan, speaking at a news conference at Lord’s, the home of cricket, said cricketers will be wary to return to Pakistan. But he hopes the political climate changes before long.

“The world is a dangerous place but cricket must go on, it will go on,” he said. “It’s a great game and a great solace to so many people.”

New Zealand responded by calling off its December tour to Pakistan but would discuss meeting Pakistan at a neutral venue.

The ruling cricket body in Canada said there are no immediate plans to withdraw eight Canadian cricketers training in Sri Lanka.

“Our coaches indicated that based on the security that has been provided to us, we should not have any major concerns about the players at the moment because of the location,” Cricket Canada secretary Calvin Clarke said from Toronto.

Haroon Lorgat, chief executive of the governing body, said the attack did not necessarily mean Pakistan would lose its 2011 World Cup matches. The ICC will meet in Dubai next month to discuss whether to redistribute the matches among India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the other World Cup co-hosts.

“We need to be careful of a knee-jerk reaction,” Lorgat said. “The World Cup is still two years away.”

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said it was too early to consider a switch.

“You can’t say cricket won’t take place in Asia,” he said. “It would kill the game because four of the eight countries we play serious cricket against are based out of there.”

A number of Pakistan test cricketers saw little hope for their country and the 2011 World Cup.

“It’s gone,” retired paceman Waqar Younis said. “It’s a big tragedy. Something like this should have never happened.”

Javed Miandad, a former Pakistan captain and coach, added: “It is going to be very difficult for us to now convince teams that they can play the World Cup in Pakistan safely.”

Retired fast bowler Sarfraz Nawaz called the future of cricket in Pakistan bleak.

“No team will even think to come to play in Pakistan after this attack and injuries to their cricketers,” he said. “I am also fearing that other countries will be reluctant to even invite Pakistan for home series in fear that may open door for such terrorism to come to their country.”

West Indies board president Dr. Julian Hunte said cricketers now consider themselves vulnerable to extremists.

“There was a level of comfort,” Hunte said. “This now blows that away and it means cricketers are being seen as targets. It is a matter we cannot ignore, and we must ensure the safety of players and everyone else involved in this beautiful game.”

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