MELBOURNE: Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) chief Todd Greenberg has assured the country’s cricketers that he will travel to Pakistan with them if the tour gets final approval but would respect if “one or two” backs out of the trip.

If the team gets security clearance to travel, it will be Australia’s first tour to Pakistan since 1998, when Mark Taylor’s side won the three-Test series 1-0.

“I’ve made an assurance to the players that they won’t go alone. If they’re going to Pakistan, I’ll be going with them and I think that’s important. It’s an opportunity to show the players that we’re in this together,” Greenberg told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The ACA accompanied Cricket Australia on a pre-tour of Pakistan late last year, and the reports were all very positive.

“But we’ll continue to take the advice of DFAT and other government organisations, as we need to be able to satisfy not just the players, but their families, that it’s safe to tour.”

International teams have been reluctant to travel to Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009.

However, international players have competed in Pakistan Super League (PSL) and the West Indies also travelled to Pakistan in December 2021 for a Twenty20 series.

Greenberg understands that despite security assurances, a few cricketers might be unwilling to travel to Pakistan but he won’t force anyone.

“There may be one or two players who won’t be comfortable despite the best advice we give, and that’s OK, we need to respect that.”

CA chief executive Nick Hockley is also planning to travel to Pakistan for at least some of the tour, while the interim chair Richard Freudenstein may visit for a period to meet with his counterpart Ramiz Raja, unless a new permanent chair is chosen by then, according to the report in SMH.

New Zealand and England had called off their tours to Pakistan ahead of the T20 World Cup last year, much to the disappointment of cricket establishment in that country PCB chief Ramiz Raja had emphasised that cricketing nations need to back each other but rued that “western bloc” was not helping the cause.

He said he was expecting Australia to do the same what England and New Zealand did to them.

Greenberg said while they are keen to fulfil their international commitments, they would allow players to make their own choices.

“We have to be kind and patient with each other, and there’ll be a player or two who say, ‘You know what, this is not for me at this particular point in my life and career, I’m not comfortable going’.

“If that’s the case, we need to have great respect for that,” Greenberg told SEN Radio.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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