The fate of Australia’s tour of Pakistan appeared bleaker on Monday when the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) refused to send its delegate with a security team that is supposed to visit the country for security inspection later this month.
The ACA Board that is formed by former and current Australian Test players decided against sending its representative to Pakistan because of fears of his safety in the violence-hit country.
Its announcement comes as a major blow for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which is making efforts to save its international home season by confirming the series against Australia. But Pakistani officials are still keeping their fingers crossed, saying that they are dealing with Cricket Australia (CA) and not ACA with the belief that the tour will go ahead according to its new schedule.
A PCB official told ‘The News’ on Wednesday that the Board is still awaiting a CA verdict on the security inspection which was supposed to begin later this week. CA officials had assured their PCB counterparts last month that they would try sending an inspection team to pave the way for the much-awaited tour. But that was much before a new wave of suicide bombings that has recently rocked the north-western region of the country.
It is this new outbreak of violence that forced ACA President Darren Lehmann, a former Test cricketer, to make it clear that the association has decided against sending its delegate as a part of the CA recce team because of security fears.
According to reports, Lehmann said he would not be allowing any of his employees to go to Pakistan because he did not think it was safe to do so, and because the players’ board has voiced its disapproval.
ACA chief executive Paul Marsh had been scheduled to join CA representatives on an advance trip to Pakistan ahead of Australia’s tour, which is scheduled to begin on March 29. “We’re not sending Paul Marsh on the pre-tour visit and that’s basically because we as a board don’t feel comfortable sending one of our employees there at the moment,” Lehmann was quoted as saying by AFP.
“At the moment our advice is not to, and I don’t feel comfortable sending anybody to be perfectly honest, and the (players’) board doesn’t. “There’s been a lot of things going on in Pakistan — hopefully it settles down, but only time will tell,” he added.
CA and the ACA will meet with the Australian foreign ministry officials in Canberra on Wednesday (tomorrow) for the latest information on the security situation. Lehmann is convinced CA will push ahead with plans for the tour unless it is made patently clear the trip cannot proceed.
He said he and the players would require plenty of assurances to sway them from their stance. “On Wednesday we’ll meet with the government departments and see what is really out there,” he said.
“We’ll get our advice from them, security issues, any other problems we have with Pakistan. I think they’d need a lot of assurances along the way,” he added. According to the Australian newspaper, the Aussie cricketers “would prefer CA cancelled the tour for obvious safety and security reasons so they need not make a stand themselves, but this is not yet possible in the highly charged atmosphere of international cricket politics.”
The paper added: “With the International Cricket Council (ICC) dominated by the Afro-Asia bloc, led by extremely wealthy India, the strong alliance between India and Pakistan in particular puts extra pressure on Australia to fall into line.”
If the ICC believes a country cancels a tour without adequate reason, it can be fined a minimum $2million for failing to fulfil its obligations under the Future Tours Programme (FTP). Meanwhile, CA officials say they are monitoring the situation in Pakistan.
“We will sit down with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and take a formal briefing from them on the situation in Pakistan and the likely situation in the coming weeks,” CA spokesman Peter Young said.
“We’ll continue to move through that formal process. We’re not going to pre-empt the outcome of that process until we have gone through the whole thing,” he added.If CA receives the same advice from DFAT that is posted as a travel warning on its website, no-one connected with Australian cricket will be going to Pakistan.
“We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation,” stated the DFAT warning.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:ACA, Australia, Pakistan, PCB
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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