Australia A may become the first Australian side to tour Pakistan in over two decades, Cricket Australia (CA) stated in a report on its website.
The Men Down Under have not played in Pakistan since 1998 due to security reasons but the recent visits by CA’s Chief Executive Kevin Roberts and the board’s Head of Security Sean Carroll in October have hinted at a possible tour of an Australian team to the country.
According to the report, Pakistan Cricket Board’s Chief Executive Officer Wasim Khan is keen for an Australia A side to play in Pakistan before the Test sides meet in early 2022.
“A lot of these things are baby steps. We need discuss timings of a potential ‘A’ tour, the length of the tours and where it’s played,” Wasim told cricket.com.au. “It gives us an opportunity to close a gap a little bit because we have two-and-a-half years before Australia are here (in Pakistan). Roberts and Carroll came out to Pakistan just to have a look and feel and understand the landscape in Pakistan around security. The major cities have now been safe for a very long time … this is all about building confidence with players and CA that Pakistan is a safe place to come. Kevin and I acknowledged that’s what we want together over that period of time because CA is committed to see sustainable cricket back in Pakistan. We’ll work towards with that.”
Pakistan will hosting its first Test series in December since 2009 when armed terrorist attacked the Sri Lankan team.
Wasim went on to say that Pakistan is a country with 220 million passionate fans and the return of Test cricket will lift the entire nation.
“We need it to sustain us both financially and from a cricket perspective. Azhar Ali is going to be stepping out to captain in the first Test on Thursday, he’s played 60-odd Test matches and has never played a Test match in Pakistan. That’s a sad statistic. We need youngsters being able to see their local heroes play and relate to them. We have lost a generation over the past 10 years who have not seen international cricket consistently being played.”
However, Kevin Roberts has clarified that the security of their players will be the top priority.
“We share Pakistan’s desire for international cricket to return to their country and we’re encouraged to see Sri Lanka agreeing to a two-Test series there next month,” Roberts said. “We won’t be rushing into a decision. We will continue to monitor the situation, consult with experts and evolve the discussions from my recent visit to Islamabad. First and foremost in our thinking is the safety of our players and staff. That said, things appear to be heading in the right direction as Pakistan’s home Test series against Sri Lanka would suggest. I hope we do return there for the sake of world cricket and Australia’s important relationship with Pakistan.”
The Pakistan’s board chief executive will hold talks with the Australian Cricketers’ Association in Melbourne and Shane Watson, the newly appointed president of the players’ union, is expected to play the role of mediator.
Watson is one of several Australians to have played Pakistan Super League (PSL) fixtures in Pakistan. He has also been registered for next year’s draft alongside countrymen Ben Cutting and Chris Lynn.