Zim tour goes ahead despite Fica warning

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ZIMBABWE’S scheduled tour of Pakistan later this month looks set to go ahead as planned despite the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica)’s warning of the “unacceptable risk” for foreign teams in the host country.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Fica, which represents players from seven of cricket’s 10 test-playing countries excluding Pakistan, Zimbabwe and India players, yesterday issued a strongly worded statement saying its security specialists had advised that the tour should not go ahead.

The warning came after both the Pakistan and Zimbabwe cricket boards announced last week that Lahore would host five limited-overs games, the first visit by a Test nation since Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked by gunmen in 2009.

“We are very concerned about the safety of players and any match officials who may be sent to Pakistan, should this tour go ahead,” Fica executive chairman Tony Irish said in a statement.

“The risk assessment that we have received from Fica’s security consultants is that an international tour to Pakistan remains an unacceptable risk and teams are advised against travelling there at present.

“Although we are sure that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will do what they can regarding a security plan, our experts advise that the risk is unmanageable.”

Fica said it had concerns that Zimbabwean players “have had little or no say in whether they should be touring in these circumstances”, Irish said in the statement.

However Alistair Campbell, the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) managing director who was part of the Zimbabwean delegation which left for the subcontinent nation yesterday, said although he was yet to read Fica’s statement, the tour would go ahead as planned.

“I’m in Dubai at the moment and just about to board a plane to Pakistan,” Campbell told NewsDay Sport in a telephone interview from Dubai, enroute to Lahore.

“As far as I know, both boards (ZC and PCB) have confirmed that the tour will go ahead. I cannot comment on the Fica statement as I’m yet to read it and can only respond to it when I have seen it,” said the former Zimbabwe captain.

Campbell led the delegation made up of ZC officials and the South African security agency Nicholls Steyn and Associates, which is expected to assess the situation before the tour commences on May 19.

The team is expected to return tomorrow after monitoring security arrangements being made for the upcoming series.