<
>

Cricket-Top flight cricket in Pakistan may now stop - Arthur

JOHANNESBURG, March 3 - South Africa coach Mickey
Arthur said the attack by gunmen on Sri Lanka's team bus in
Pakistan on Tuesday could signal the end of top-flight cricket
in Pakistan for some time.

"Any loss of life is tragic but when it involves sport it
just seems so senseless," Arthur told Reuters. "The Sri Lankans
are a fantastic bunch of guys who did not deserve to be
subjected to something like this.

"Thank God none of them were killed. As far as Pakistan is
concerned I'm afraid this could mean the end of international
cricket in that country for the foreseeable future."

Arthur said the South Africans felt uncomfortable when they
visited Pakistan in 2007.

"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," he said.

"Although we were surrounded by security and as satisfied as
we could be with the arrangements made by Cricket South Africa,
the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan government, it was
very uncomfortable."
The chief executive of South Africa's players' association,
Tony Irish, said the attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus would
forever change the way security was handled around touring
sides.

"The big concern is that for the first time a team has been
targeted and that adds a whole new dimension to security
arrangements and planning," Irish told Reuters.

MUCH POORER

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola said the
game would be much poorer for the attack.

"It's the worst possible news for cricket and all
cricket-loving nations," Majola said. "Our thoughts are with all
victims of this terrible attack as the cricket world comes to
grips with this shocking news."

Irish said SACA (the South African Cricketers' Association)
had sent their condolences to the Sri Lankan team and support
staff.

"Our first thoughts are with the Sri Lankan players and
their security team," he said.

"They are the most likeable bunch of guys and we hope
everything is being put in place to get them out of Pakistan
safely."

(Writing by Ken Borland; Editing by Tony Jimenez)