Australia in doubt of touring Pakistan



Australia is scheduled to tour Pakistan for March and April. But now it seems very unlikely following the meeting held in Dubai between the chairmen of both boards. After the discussions Cricket Australia’s chairman, Creagh O’Connor, sent a letter to the Pakistan board expressing the reservations on security held in Pakistan.

The PCB chairman, Nasim Ashraf said “We received a letter yesterday from CA following our meeting and, though they reiterated their commitment to supporting Pakistan cricket, they said security briefings they have received in Australia are advising them against touring.”
A security delegation of Cricket Australia is due to visit Pakistan after the general elections due to be held on February 18. However a report in the Urdu daily Jung said that Cricket Australia is unsure whether sending experts would be feasible, which indicated perhaps they already made a decision not to tour Pakistan.

“They have asked us whether we still want a security delegation sent here and if so when,” Ashraf said. “In response to this, we have told CA that we still firmly believe that the environment for cricket and cricketers is still safe here. We have also said that the security team should visit Pakistan from February 25, exactly one week after the elections.”

Ashraf also included that if Australia refuses to tour Pakistan then it would be a big blow for Pakistan cricket. He said that any country in the world is prone to terrorism and this should not dictate the sports events which are going to take place in the future because it would also have an effect on teams financially. If these events are intervened more often then simply touring other countries would become an issue for some teams. He hopes that Australia would make the right decision because there is a also a possibility of Pakistan refraining from their tour of Australia in 2009.

This would be Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in a decade and the Australian players are concerned following the violence throughout the year and the stability of the country. Despite these issues recently South Africa and Zimbabwe have completed tours without any controversial interventions during the series of matches.

Privately the board officials of PCB think it is becoming unlikely for the tour to be possible. Yet they continue to press for the tour to go ahead. The PCB’s chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmei is scheduled to meet James Sutherland, Cricket Australia’s chief executive, in Kuala Lampur and have a further discussion on security arrangements.

[by Shahnawaz Alam]