Following an approach from the Pakistan Cricket Board, Cricket Australia seems to have softened its stance on touring Pakistan to play international cricket for the first time in twenty years.Newly appointed Managing Director of the PCB, Wasim Khan, has mentioned in several interviews that he is actively working towards bringing international cricket back to Pakistan, and was keen on it happening soon.
“We are in ongoing discussions with the PCB about the one-day tour in March next year. We recognise the PCB and the Pakistan government are taking every step to improve the security for touring cricket teams and we’ll continue discussions with the PCB, with the safety and security of Australian players and support staff being our number one priority,” a Cricket Australia spokesman told Sydney Morning Herald.
Pakistan have been forced to play in front of nearly empty stadiums in the UAE in the past, but international teams have gradually warmed up to the idea of returning to the country to play, with Sri Lanka playing a one-off T20 in 2017 (eight years after a terrorist attack on their team bus in Lahore).
The Windies also played a three-match T20I series in Karachi in April 2018, while a World XI including the likes of Tim Paine, Ben Cutting and George Bailey played a three-match T20I series in the country in 2017.
“It may well be small steps getting county teams touring and visiting the fantastic national academy. Could we get an MCC team to tour? Or could we have a small number of international matches to start with, rather than a whole series? Could teams play one or two one-day internationals on their way through to the United Arab Emirates,” Khan told the Daily Telegraph.
“I appreciate countries have a lot of security issues but, with military-style security on offer, I am keen to understand where the gaps are so we can address them.
“It is interesting for me to get to the bottom of those things and see what I can influence and the conversations I need to have with other countries so we can understand what we need to do to ensure they can come back to Pakistan.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade currently carries a formal advisory, asking citizens to reconsider traveling to Pakistan “due to the volatile security situation and high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and sectarian violence. Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere and at any time in Pakistan. Places frequented by foreigners are at particularly high threat of attack.”
But with the recent conversations held between the PCB and CA, it might not be long before an Australian team tours Pakistan once again.
First Published: December 22, 2018, 3:39 PM IST