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03 Mar 2009 18:17
South African cricket captain Graeme Smith said on Tuesday the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan brought home to him the real meaning of tragedy.
“The word tragedy is often used to describe a setback on the sporting field, but this is a real tragedy, for all the people of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, for cricket, and for all decent people,” the batsman said in a statement.
“There is a tremendous brotherhood among cricketers around the world and at this time South Africans extend their sympathy to all those affected by this terrible event.
“We are hurting after our defeat by Australia yesterday, but this puts into perspective what real suffering is. Our thoughts are with the Sri Lankan players and we hope they arrive home safely to their families.”
Eight people were killed and seven Sri Lankan cricketers wounded in Lahore when up to 12 gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the squad with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons.
Chief executive Gerald Majola told the Cricket South Africa (CSA) website: “This is a dastardly deed and will have a negative impact on world cricket.
“We need to address security issues as a matter of urgency.
We have to achieve that balance between keeping cricket progressing and securing the safety of our players and spectators.”
CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka said: “Cricket is an instrument of peace and justice, and a catalyst for harmony among nations.
“The players who were shot were ambassadors of these noble causes and we therefore condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this crime on innocent people.”
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said: “Any loss of life is tragic but when it involves sport it just seems so senseless.
“The Sri Lankans are a fantastic bunch of guys who did not deserve to be subjected to this.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, I’m afraid this could mean the end of international cricket in that country for the foreseeable future.
“When we toured there in October 2007 it was quite obvious we were existing and trying to do something normal in a very abnormal situation,” said Arthur.
“Although we were surrounded by security, and as satisfied as we could be with arrangements made by Cricket South Africa, the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government, it was very uncomfortable.”
South Africa Players Association chief executive Tony Irish said: “The big concern is that for the first time a team has been targeted and that adds a new dimension to security arrangements and planning.
‘The most likeable bunch of guys’
“Our first thoughts are with the Sri Lankan players and their security team. They are the most likeable bunch of guys and we hope everything is being put in place to get them out of Pakistan safely.”
South Africa was the first country to withdraw from the ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan last September, citing security fears despite assurances from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
CSA made the decision after studying security in Pakistan and plans for the event along with reports from the South African government.
South Africa urged the ICC to reschedule the tournament, which they did.—AFP
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