Editorial: Cricket chiefs should put player safety first

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If a string of suicide bomb attacks in the past 12 months had killed more than 1000 people in a country scheduled imminently to host soccer's World Cup or the Olympics, the event would undoubtedly be shifted to a safer venue.

The international purview of such occasions would guarantee as much. So why has the International Cricket Council decided to keep its Champions Trophy tournament in Pakistan?

The answer lies in the financial power of its Asian members. Even the danger of a split between themselves and the rest of the cricketing world seems not enough to dissuade the game's new powerbrokers.

The ICC's ill-advised move creates considerable problems for Australia, England and New Zealand. Most senior players in those countries seem adamantly opposed to playing in Pakistan. The Black Caps had to cut short a tour there six years ago after a bomb blast outside their hotel. This year, Australia postponed a full tour of Pakistan because of security concerns.

Administrators in those countries must now decide whether to pull out of the Champions Trophy or to send under-strength teams. Either way, there will be consequences, even if the ICC imposes no financial punishment.

The failure of Australia, England and New Zealand to send their top players to what is the game's second most important tournament would rob it of much of its glamour, and would encourage some of the Asian nations to consider reprisals. For New Zealand, there could, conceivably, be repercussions as soon as next summer's tour by India.

Any such retribution would harden attitudes and promote further turmoil. The chances of a damaging schism in the game would be heightened immeasurably. This is in nobody's interests, least of all those pulling the purse-strings. If they served the best interests of the game they would not treat player safety so blithely.

- NZ Herald

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