| Rameez is extremely disappointed
Cape Town, Sept. 20 (Reuters): South Africa have cancelled their tour to Pakistan because of security concerns, the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) said on Saturday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) slammed the decision, calling it “disappointing and uncalled for.”
The tour was given a final go-ahead on Thursday but the UCBSA subsequently decided to call it off because of a bomb blast in Karachi on Friday. South Africa were due to leave on Sunday.
“The UCBSA regrets that South Africa is unable to tour Pakistan at this time due to yesterday’s bomb blast in Karachi and the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan,” UCBSA media officer Gerald de Kock said from Johannesburg.
De Kock said there was still hope the two teams could meet at an alternative venue.
“The UCBSA has offered the PCB the option of playing the series in South Africa or at a neutral venue,” he said.
The UCBSA said the decision had been taken after consultation with safety and security consultants, as well as South Africa’s High Commissioner in Karachi, and also as a result of information received from international intelligence sources.
International Cricket Council (ICC) president Ehsan Mani said the international governing body would be holding talks with both the South Africa and Pakistan boards.
He said they would “explore all available alternatives” to see if was possible to reschedule the tour.
UCBSA president Ray Mali said South Africa regretted calling off the tour. “The decision has been taken with much regret,” he said. “We know how much the tour means to the people of Pakistan and it is also a tour which we have been looking forward to. But the safety of our players is our primary concern.”
South Africa captain Graeme Smith told Reuters the team had been looking forward to the tour.
“From a cricket point of view it’s very disappointing,” he said. “For a young cricket side it would have been fantastic to tour Pakistan, especially with the West Indies then coming here in our summer. But you can never take your security for granted.”
PCB chief executive Rameez Raja said UCBSA’s decision over a minor bomb blast in a city office block was totally unexpected. “They have shocked us by calling off the tour,” Raja said. “It’s uncalled for and disappointing.”
The UCBSA notified its Pakistani counterpart of its decision via fax earlier today.
Before the current tour by Bangladesh, Pakistan had played only two Tests and three one-day Internationals at home following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and the subsequent war in Afghanistan.
Series against the West Indies and Australia were switched to neutral venues due to security concerns.
In May 2002, a suicide bomb attack in Karachi killed 11 French naval technicians outside a hotel where the New Zealand team was staying. They returned home the same day, halfway through a two-Test series.