Cricket Australia hopeful of touring Pakistan

SYDNEY (AFP) – Cricket Australia is hoping to tour Pakistan in 2022, but Chief Executive Kevin Roberts said security remains a concern and he would never jeopardise the safety of players.

Most international teams have refused to visit the South Asian nation since the Sri Lankan team’s bus was attacked by gunmen during a Test in Lahore in March 2009, leaving six players injured. Six policemen and two civilians were killed.

The team has not played there since 1998, on government advice, but is next scheduled to tour in early 2022 and Roberts told Melbourne’s SEN radio he wanted to see for himself the situation on the ground.

“The purpose was really to understand the landscape, look at the plans they have in place around security and then start expressing our expectations for the safety of our players and our support staff well over two years away from when we’re due to tour,” he said.

“Things are heading in the right direction. In saying that we were travelling in armoured cars and escorted by police and felt very safe over there. But certainly that level of security is still required at this point.”

Roberts said “we would love to see international cricket return to Pakistan”, but cautioned that “we would never put our people in jeopardy”.

His comments came as Sri Lanka’s cricket board this week said they would press ahead with an upcoming six-match tour of Pakistan despite fears that players could be the targets of terror attacks.