Australia bow out of Pakistan tour over safety concerns; PCB insists talks ongoing

Updated January 13, 2019

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Cricket Australia insists it is open to the idea of a return in the future. —Photo courtesy PCB
Cricket Australia insists it is open to the idea of a return in the future. —Photo courtesy PCB

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been informed that Australia will not be coming to Pakistan for a one-day series scheduled to be held in March-April this year, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday.

Pakistan is scheduled to host Australia for a five-match ODI series in the United Arab Emirates in March, and the PCB had last month decided to renew talks with CA to convince them to play at least two of the matches in Pakistan.

But while not immediately committing to a Pakistan tour, Cricket Australia (CA), the governing body for the game in Australia, insisted it "remain[s] open to the idea of playing in the country again", the publication added.

On the flip side, the PCB said it is "still waiting for a response from the CA", stressing that discussions with them are ongoing.

According to a statement released by the PCB, the board's chairman wrote a letter to the CA chairman on January 7. It was suggested in the letter that the CA "as part of a standard protocol and process for bilateral series" send their reconnaissance team to Pakistan so they may review Pakistan's security arrangements via presentations before making a call about touring the country.

With the gradual return of international cricket to Pakistan, it was hoped that the Aussies —who last toured Pakistan in 1998 — could come back for "at least some of this year's one-dayers", the SMH reported.

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A CA spokesperson while indicating that Australia had safety concerns, stressed the fact that it was not backing out from playing in the country again.

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

“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."

The spokesperson suggested that the Pakistan series would go ahead as scheduled in the UAE, but the CA could again consider the idea of playing in Pakistan in the future. "We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” they added.

According to SMH, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade currently advises Australians to "reconsider their need to travel to Pakistan in general, while some regions are complete no-go zones".

The PCB has not announced the exact dates for the series as yet, which means there is a possibility that Steve Smith and David Warner, who were suspended for ball tampering, may make their international return at the end of their ban on March 29, the publication speculated.