Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 24 News List

Reports say Australian cricketers to boycott tour

AP , SYDNEY

Cricket Australia will continue to monitor the security situation in Pakistan before deciding whether its tour next month will proceed, amid reports that players will boycott the trip regardless of the decision.

The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that most of Australia's senior players had made it privately clear they would pull out of any visit to Pakistan. Australia are due to leave in the second week of next month for three Tests, five one-day matches and a Twenty20 game in Pakistan.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting later said "there is no doubt at all that in our dressing room there are some concerns."

"Anybody that would be touring Pakistan at the moment, whether they be a cricketer or a day-to-day citizen, would have concerns," he said.

Pakistan organizers do not want to play the series on neutral turf and have offered fewer venues with upgraded security for the tour.

Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said further security assessments needed to be made.

"We are aware of [the players'] concerns and we share those concerns, and we won't be sending our players anywhere that isn't safe," Young said. "We have to assess what is going on, but we have a good track record of getting things right and also of demonstrating that we can make hard decisions."

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Australia have not toured Pakistan for 10 years and wanted to go if the circumstances were right.

"We need Pakistan cricket to be strong and healthy if we are to have a genuinely global sport," Sutherland said.

Parliamentary elections will be held on Monday in Pakistan and campaigning has been hit by suicide bombings and bomb attacks.

Cricket Australia and representatives of the Australian Cricketers Association are due to visit Pakistan after the elections for a security assessment.

Independent security experts advised Cricket Australia against touring Pakistan.

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