England set to follow Australia by pulling out of Trophy

Australia's cricketers last night became the first to break rank and withdraw from next month's Champions Trophy in Pakistan. The players of England, New Zealand and South Africa have also expressed severe reservations about visiting the volatile country, and are expected to follow the lead set by Ricky Ponting's team before the end of the week.

In the last week Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, along with representatives of Nicholls Steyn and Associates, the Champions Trophy independent security advisor team, have travelled around the world briefing players and officials from England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on the security arrangements that have been put in place for the tournament. The aim of the group was to alleviate the fears of players and officials from these countries, convincing them it was safe to participate in the tournament.

The briefings, however, do not appear to have made any impression and the decision of Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, to stand down after eight-and-a-half years in charge can hardly be seen as a move that would decrease the chances of bombs going off in the country. It seems the tournament will have to be moved to Sri Lanka for the eight competing countries to confirm their participation.

Paul Marsh, the head of the Australian Cricketers Association, said that the danger posed by suicide bombers could not be eased, even with beefed-up security. "Our position is that we can't recommend the players tour Pakistan for the Champions Trophy," said Marsh. "Obviously, we put a position forward a few weeks ago [to the ICC] to that effect but we said we would keep an open mind with the taskforce, which we did. We heard them speak on Friday. Now we have had a chance to digest it, our position hasn't changed."

New Zealand's player's union representative Heath Mills expressed similar reservations last week and it would be a major surprise if New Zealand failed to follow Australia's example.

No player in the England team would have a better idea of what it is like in Pakistan than Owais Shah. Shah was born in Karachi in 1978 and lived in the city for the early years of his life. When asked if it was his impression that the four concerned countries – Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa – would stick together Shah said: "I think so, I hope so. Obviously we all have concerns about going. Yes, I have a Pakistani background, I have a lot of family in Pakistan, so I do know what Karachi can be like having grown up there. We are all waiting for a decision to be made by the England and Wales Cricket Board, and we will see what happens."

Shah will be hoping the tournament takes place somewhere in the world because it offers him the ideal stage on which to show the world his talent when batting in the position normally occupied by the team's leading player. Number three is the spot filled by Ricky Ponting, Brian Lara and Sir Vivian Richards when they were at their best, and Shah has been given the opportunity to try and follow in their footsteps.

The abandonment of this evening's Twenty20 international against South Africa in Durham means that Shah and the rest of the England team will now have to wait until Friday to push for possible Champions Trophy selection. The saturated outfield also deprived the players of a final chance to impress in Twenty20 cricket before England select a squad to take on Sir Allen Stanford's all-star XI in a multi-million dollar game in Antigua on 1 November.

Shah was not a member of England's one-day team 14 months ago but impressive performances since have led to him becoming an integral member of the side. The 29-year-old scored a maiden one-day hundred against India at The Oval in 2007, but he realises he still has some way to go before being recognised as the best batsman in the England team.

"I don't think I am the best batsman in the team, I think that may be occupied by number four [Kevin Pietersen]," said a smirking Shah. "But it is something I would like to strive for. To outdo a batsman like Kevin Pietersen would be a huge challenge. He has set the standards and I would like to match them, and – who knows? – one day I might be the best batsman in the team.

"When you play in any team you want to move up the order, so that you get a better chance of a hundred. Twelve months ago I was just desperate to play for England and the number five or six positions were the ones that were up for grabs, and I was quite happy to try and make that my own. But the number three position is the one I have always had for Middlesex. I have batted there for eight or nine years now and I feel I can do a really good job."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower