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Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Australia postpone Pakistan tour

Australia captain Ricky Ponting
Australia captain Ricky Ponting will not tour Pakistan later this month

Australia have pulled out of their tour of Pakistan because of security fears.

Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said it had been "left with no alternative" but to postpone the tour, which was due to begin on 29 March.

Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson said it was "very disappointing" but added "it is better that the series has been postponed rather than cancelled".

The decision comes in the wake of a wave of violence in Pakistan surrounding last month's elections.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) revealed in a joint statement that officials from both countries would meet in Dubai next weekend to discuss possible dates when the tour could go ahead.

Sutherland, who is the CA chief executive, said it would not take place in 2008, adding there were "a couple of windows" in 2009 and 2010.

A PCB spokesman said: "We will make a sincere effort to finalise new dates soon. We will discuss all possible options."

We've left no stone unturned in trying to ensure that the tour could proceed as planned

Australian chief James Sutherland

Pakistan coach Lawson, himself an Australian national, said: "I hope this series is not postponed for long because Pakistan are in dire need of playing international cricket and more Test matches.

"Cricket Australia is right in carefully considering the security situation before the tour, but it is a situation no one wants to be in.

"I just hope cricket is not damaged in Pakistan because of this postponement."

The Australian cricket authorities commissioned an independent security report on Pakistan before deciding not to travel.

"We've left no stone unturned in trying to ensure that the tour could proceed as planned, but at the end of the day for us the safety and security of our employees must come first," said Sutherland.

"Playing at a neutral venue was one of the options that was put on the table.

"That's something for the Pakistan Cricket Board (to consider). It's their tour and we certainly sympathise with their position in understanding they desperately want the tour to go ahead in Pakistan."

Australia were due to play two Test matches and five one-day internationals in Pakistan.

They are still set to tour the West Indies and will leave for the Caribbean on 9 May.

Australia have not played in Pakistan since 1998.

The series between the two countries scheduled for Pakistan in 2002 was played in Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates after Australia refused to tour because of safety concerns.

see also
Deadly blasts hit Pakistani city
11 Mar 08 |  South Asia
Pakistan 'safe' for Aussie tour
08 Mar 08 |  Australia
Pakistan await Australia verdict
05 Mar 08 |  Australia

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