South Africa pull out of Pakistan event

South Africa yesterday withdrew from next month's Champions Trophy in Pakistan citing concerns over safety and security. Cricket South Africa said the decision followed a presentation from an International Cricket Council task force headed by the world governing body's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat.

"The decision was taken after assessment of the presentation as well as the information available from a number of other security reports, including one from the South African government," a statement read.

The chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, Tony Irish, said: "This was a difficult decision, but it was the right one. There is nothing more important than the safety of our national team. The players are naturally disappointed for their fans and the people of Pakistan that they will not have a chance to see them in action in that country in September."

The CSA president, Norman Arendse, added that he hoped the ICC would be able to reschedule the tournament.

The ICC executive will meet tomorrow to make a final decision on whether the tournament should go ahead as planned. England, Australia and New Zealand have also expressed concerns about security after a series of suicide bombings in Pakistan and are expected to withdraw from the tournament. Pakistan Cricket Board chief operating officer, Shafqat Naghmi, admitted yesterday that he expected the three other nations to follow South Africa's lead.

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