West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell expressed his willingness to visit Pakistan, but will be ‘scared’ if the Pakistan Super League (PSL) were to be staged in it’s host country next year.
Russell, who is currently representing Islamabad United in the PSL, judges the situation according to what he sees and hears on mainstream media about Pakistan.
“Based on what I have heard and stuff you know, I mean, I am going to be scared obviously,” Russell told ESPNcricinfo, when asked if he would play in Pakistan.
“But, for some reason, I would go to Pakistan. But listen, I am going to be scared. That’s the thing,” he added.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) does not yet consider Pakistan as a safe place to travel for international teams despite Zimbabwe’s tour to the country last year, which made them the first team to visit Pakistan after the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked near Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore in 2009.
On the other hand, PSL Chairman Najam Sethi has already revealed his plans to host some matches of the league in Pakistan next year.
Russell said that going to Pakistan would be as dangerous as travelling to Iraq — a country which has been suffering from war since more than a decade now.
“It is like me going to Iraq based on what I have heard about Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Pakistan. I’ve seen pictures, beautiful places, and beautiful people. But it is [about] what is surrounding [them],” Russell said.
Russell was not shy to equate Pakistan to his very own home town Jamaica where crime has disturbed the lives of many.
“A lot of crime going on in Jamaica. I’m from Jamaica. I’m going to tell, Jamaica is the most beautiful place in the world. You are going to say, ‘No, but, they are shooting people.’ I will say, no, no. Don’t worry. So it is going to be similar [about going to Pakistan]. So if I have to go, I’ll go. But if I don’t have to, I don’t mind,” said the Islamabad United man.
In the past few weeks, high-profile names such as Shane Watson and Darren Sammy have said that they would travel to Pakistan if they are cleared by the related authorities.
“I had a really good time while playing in Pakistan in 2005 during the Australia A team tour,” said Watson on the eve of PSL.
“However, security is the most important thing and if players around the world are declared to be very safe I will be happy to play there.
“I love playing cricket wherever it is around the world. If security situation continues to get better there, it will be nice and Pakistan hadn’t had home team advantage for a long time now because of security concerns and hopefully it works out their way soon,” added the Australian all-rounder, whom was snapped up by Islamabad United at the PSL draft.
Sammy, who represents Peshawar Zalmi, expressed sympathy for the Pakistani fans that have been deprived of watching their favourite cricketers play at home.
The all-rounder also believed that the PSL, if played in Pakistan would fill in the vacuum. However, Sammy said that it was not a decision that he can take on his own.
“Well, to be honest, these decisions are never ours,” Sammy said to the media during the early stages of the tournament.
“It is the government and the cricket body to decide, but what I could tell you is that the fans of Pakistan cricket have been missing some good international cricket.
“We as cricketers get to play in front of our home fans and that is something Pakistan have not had an opportunity [to experience], to play in front of their own people for a while. It is sad, but hopefully things could get resolved and every territory could get a chance of playing cricket before their own crowd,” added the former West Indies captain.
The inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League is in it's very last stages, as the final is set to be held on Tuesday, in which Quetta Gladiators will play Islamabad United or Peshawar Zalmi.
United and Zalmi will fight for the finalists’ spot in the third play-off encounter which will be played on Sunday.