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January 14, 2019

PCB remains hopeful Australia will tour Pakistan


January 14, 2019

KARACHI: The chances of Pakistan hosting Australia on home soil later this season seem bleak but the PCB is still hoping that it will somehow convince the Australians to visit the country for a few matches in March-April.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been trying to line up home games against Australia for quite some time. But Cricket Australia has recently conveyed that it won’t be sending its team this time around. However, CA has assured that it is open to the idea of its team playing in Pakistan in the future.

The PCB maintains the matter isn’t yet closed, waiting to hear back from CA about a proposal to send a reconnaissance team to Pakistan before making a definitive call not to tour.Australia are scheduled to play five One-day Internationals against Pakistan in March-April.

Australia haven’t played in Pakistan since 1998, however the gradual return of international cricket to the country in recent years had boosted hopes that the Aussies could come back for at least some of this year’s one-dayers.

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani spoke to then-incoming CA chief executive Kevin Roberts during the Aussies’ Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October, with Mani publicly calling for Australia, England and New Zealand to follow the lead of the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe who have ventured back to Pakistan since 2017.

A handful of Australian players - including current Test captain Tim Paine - also featured in a World XI side that played in Pakistan in 2017.But while CA have indicated a desire to play again in Pakistan, a commitment to tour won’t materialise in the next few months.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” a 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.”

But the PCB issued a statement late on Sunday night which indicated that the issue was unresolved from Pakistan’s end.“The PCB Chairman wrote a letter to the 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 said.

“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.”The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s current advice is for Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Pakistan in general, while some regions are complete no-go zones. —with inputs from agencies

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