A day after the announcement of Australia’s first tour of Pakistan since 1998, Test captain Tim Paine has suggested that some players might not be "comfortable" visiting the country.
“If we’re totally honest, there might be some people who aren’t comfortable going regardless,” Paine said in an interview with SEN - an Australian radio station in Victoria – on Tuesday morning.
“There’ll be some guys who will be happy to take the experts’ advice and others will want to know a bit more.”
Australia are scheduled to play three Tests, as many ODIs and a one-off Twenty20 International during their tour of Pakistan in March-April next year.
Three Test matches will take place in Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi, while all four white-ball matches will be played in Punjab’s provincial capital.
When asked about the prospect of a full-strength squad touring Pakistan, he said the team had not discussed the tour as a group as yet, but believed that some players would have questions in their minds.
“That’s happened before with tours going to other countries going back forever. Again there are issues that will I’m sure pop-up. We’ll discuss it, people get the right answers and feel comfortable, and then we’ll get hopefully the best team we can. At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual.”
The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), on the other hand, said that they would support the tour.
“ACA is fully supportive of the upcoming tour of Pakistan. Our first priority is always the safety and welfare of our players, and the ACA will undertake due diligence on behalf of our players as part of the CA delegation to meet with the PCB and appropriate government agencies to ensure that appropriate protocols are in place,” the players' association told the Herald on Monday.
Paine, who was part of the World XI side that visited Pakistan for a three-match exhibition T20I series in 2017, said that the “extra-ordinary” security in Pakistan was both “reassuring and unnerving.”
“The security that we had on that tour was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen in my life,” the skipper said. “We had helicopters overhead, roads shut down five kilometres around us, checkpoints like every kilometre into the ground, it was extraordinary.
“The fact you’re seeing it and thinking to yourself it may be necessary can be a bit unnerving, but at the same time to see the planning and execution of it, with literally a couple of choppers above your bus 20-30 metres above your head was comforting but also unnerving at the same time.”
With the series a few months away, both cricket boards have yet to meet as part of the reconnoitering process. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Monday that “Cricket Australia’s delegation will visit Pakistan to meet with PCB officials as well as provincial and federal authorities to discuss and finalise matters relating to team operations, logistics, security and Covid-19 protocols.”
The series, if materialised, will provide a huge boost to Pakistan cricket after New Zealand and England cancelled tours in September and October citing security concerns.