Speculation that New Zealand and Australia will step in to take over hosting the 2011 World Cup is premature, says New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan.
Claims were published in an Australian newspaper yesterday that the joint organisers of the 2015 cricket tournament were poised to bring their hosting forward by four years in the wake of the terrorism attacks in India, coupled with unrest in Pakistan.
Those countries, along with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are down to share hosting rights in three years' time. New Zealand and Australia are the official backup hosts in the event of the cup having to be shifted.
That alone means it is a given those two countries are deemed capable by the International Cricket Council (ICC) of hosting the cup at short notice.
However Vaughan cautioned against reading too much into suggestions of an imminent change. He is off to Cape Town at the weekend for a meeting of ICC chief executives and does not expect the topic to be high on the agenda.
"I think it's a bit premature. In terms of igniting anything for planning purposes, it's way too early to start talking about that," he said last night.
Vaughan, who said he had had no talks with his Cricket Australia counterpart James Sutherland in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, thought the hostilities in India had happened too recently for the meeting to be able to put them into an appropriate context to make judgments about something happening in three years' time.
"I'm sure there will be a few informal discussions round the whole situation in India at the meeting, but not with particular reference to the World Cup - more around tours to India over the next 12-24 months," he said.
Boards are likely to be consulting their tours programmes for when they are next due to visit either India or Pakistan. In New Zealand's case, a trip to Pakistan is listed for late next year; India areon the agenda in November-December 2010.
Vaughan pointed out that New Zealand's leadup to the 2011 World Cup is "perfect from a preparation point of view", with trips to three of the four hosts in the months before the event.
He retains an optimistic view of the future of international tours, pointing out that "it's a pretty scary future for the game if you think [listed events] are not going to go ahead.
"India and Pakistan are core countries in terms of international cricket and it seems bizarre if we couldn't tour there".
The next big test for many of the game's top players will be the second edition of the Indian Premier League in April-May.
That's their time to cash in on the most lucrative market in cricket. If they'll risk their safety when serious money is on the line, will they do the same for a scheduled official tour?
"I'm sure if players don't feel safe to go to India they wouldn't go," Vaughan said. "You can never guarantee security. You can't guarantee it when a team rocks up to New Zealand."
Among items that will involve considerable discussion in Cape Town is the Future Tours Programme, which is due to expire in 2012.By David Leggat Email David