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17-Aug-2010 13:02:00 GMT
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ICC Plans to Send World XI to Pakistan

London: The International Cricket Council wants to send an invitational World XI to play in Pakistan to end the country's sporting isolation following a terror attack on the Sri Lankan team.

The ICC said Tuesday that it hopes fixtures could be played in Pakistan by the end of 2011, but it is still assessing the security situation and the availability of players.

"World cricket must go back and play in Pakistan," said Giles Clarke, who heads the task force set up by the ICC in 2009 to help Pakistan fulfill its international cricket commitments.

But Clarke, unveiling the plans in the September issue of The Wisden Cricketer magazine, wrote that it was still too early for a national team to return to Pakistan.

"The security challenges are enormous but we cannot allow the terrorists to win," Clarke said. "With determination and courage an ICC World XI in due course will go and play against Pakistan in her great cities and there will be a marvelous atmosphere."

An All Star team could be more easily protected because it would undertake fewer matches in fewer venues than a national team.

Cricket tours of Pakistan were abandoned after the Sri Lankan team's bus was attacked by gunmen en route to a match venue at Lahore on March 9 last year. Six police officers and a van driver in the team's convoy were killed. Sri Lankan players and officials were injured.

The ICC also removed Pakistan as one of the four planned hosts for the 2011 World Cup, which will be staged in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka starting in February.

Pakistan has staged its scheduled home series at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates and England in the interim, but Clarke said it was important to take the game back to the Pakistan people.

"Cricket cannot abandon a nation with such a magnificent history in the game, such wonderful players and such enthusiastic and knowledgeable supporters," Clarke wrote. "It will be an historic moment when international cricket resumes in Pakistan and the first ICC team walks out."

Clarke said the Pakistan Cricket Board's income had dropped by two-thirds since the attack, describing it as "a brutal impact that few enterprises could survive."

In a 120-page report sent to the ICC, a high-ranking judge who reviewed the attack for the Pakistan government heavily criticized senior police for being ill-prepared and poorly equipped at the time of the attack.


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