Australia hopeful of touring Pakistan in 2022, says CA chief executive Roberts - GulfToday

Australia hopeful of touring Pakistan in 2022, says CA chief executive Roberts

Australia hopeful of touring Pakistan in 2022, says CA chief executive Roberts

Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts says he would love to see international cricket return to Pakistan.

Sydney: 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.

Roberts returned from Pakistan on Thursday after the first trip by a high-level Australian cricket delegation in more than a decade.

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.

Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Mohan de Silva on Thursday said they received the all-clear from the defence ministry to leave for Pakistan on Tuesday after establishing that there was no threat to the national team.

Sri Lanka Cricket added in a statement that the governing body was assured the Pakistan army would coordinate security set at a level usually reserved for a head of state.

Asked if he could realistically see Australia touring Pakistan during his tenure, Roberts said: “I really hope we do for the sake of world cricket and Australia’s important relationship with Pakistan.

“As I said to Pakistan, we share their desire for international cricket to return to their country.

“We have got the next couple of years to hopefully plan for a tour in 2022 but we have just got to set that out carefully, bit by bit, rather than rushing into it.”

Roberts is in touch with other cricketing nations over the issue and said his trip had triggered plans for similar visits by the chief executives of England and Ireland over the next month.

“It’s really good that the cricket world is opening its hearts and minds to the role of Pakistan and looking proactively at what it will take to return international cricket to Pakistan,” he said.

“Certainly, there’s parts of the country that are very unsafe, but there’s other parts where I think a number of nations will contemplate playing again in future when Pakistan are ready.”

Australian team is scheduled to play two Tests, three one-dayers and three Twenty20 games in Pakistan from late February 2022.

Meanwhile, Australia opener David Warner endured a torrid time throughout the Ashes, but Marnus Labuschagne expects him to come back stronger. In 10 Ashes innings, Warner managed just 95 runs – the lowest returns for an opener in a series of five matches or more. 61 off his runs came in one innings at Headingley, when he looked like he was breaking the shackles of poor form, only for Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer to pin him down again.

Labsuchagne, who was Australia’s second-highest run-getter in the series after Steve Smith, backed Warner to learn from the experience and bounce back a better cricketer. He also revealed that the 32-year-old was a great influence on him and other youngsters on the touring party.

“It was the first time I got to know Dave and I loved spending time with him,” Labuschagne was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Agencies