Cricket

Discussions with CA on Pakistan tour 'open and ongoing': PCB


BRINGING CRICKET BACK TO PAKISTAN

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Tim Paine, along with George Bailey and Ben Cutting was part of the ICC World XI © Getty

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is considering with Cricket Australia regarding Australia’s possible return to Pakistan for some of the five ODIs, originally scheduled to be held in the UAE, in March/April to be ongoing as it is yet to receive a reply from their Australian counterparts.

On Sunday, The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a CA spokesperson say that earlier this month the board had declined the PCB’s offer of touring Pakistan for now, however, it will consider playing in the country in future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” the CA spokesperson said. “However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January.”

However, the PCB, in a brief statement titled “PCB response to the story by The Sydney Morning Herald” said that it is yet to receive a response from their Australian counterparts.

“PCB chairman Ehsan Mani wrote a letter to CA Chairman, Mr Earl Eddings, on 7 January in which he had suggested that the CA, as part of a standard protocol and process for bilateral series, should send their recce team to Pakistan to receive presentations on Pakistan’s security arrangements.

“The PCB is still waiting for a response from the CA. Until the PCB hears further from the CA on their 7 January letter, they will consider this as an open and an ongoing discussion.”

Mani is said to have discussed the possibility of Australia returning to Pakistan, for the first time since their last visit in 1998, with CA chief executive Kevin Roberts during the two-Test series between the two sides in the UAE in October.

Since the gruesome attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in May 2009, that put a halt on international cricket in the country, Zimbabwe (2015), Sri Lanka (2017), and the Windies (2018) along with an ICC World XI, which included Australian Test captain Tim Paine, George Bailey and Ben Cutting, have toured Pakistan.

Before their tour of Bangladesh in 2017, rescheduled from 2015 when they had pulled out due to security concerns, CA had sent a reconnaissance team to the country.

With that, the PCB has been hosting PSL matches in Lahore and Karachi over the past two years that somewhat played a role in convincing the international community that Pakistan now remains a safe destination. The cricket board will host as many as eight PSL matches across the two cities in March.

The current travel advisory by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade asks Australian nationals to reconsider travelling to Pakistan in general and completely disallows travelling to some regions.

Earlier this month, Australian ODI and T20I captain Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja had said that they were open to the idea of touring Pakistan.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing,” Khawaja said. “We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe. I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away.”

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