Cricket Australia will continue their first tour of Pakistan in 24 years, with chief executive Nick Hockley insisting he wants the March trip to continue.
- Security concerns meant that many matches were played in the United Arab Emirates
- But international cricket has returned in recent years since the Sri Lanka team bus bombing in 2009
- Australia’s last game in Pakistan was in 1998
The Pakistan Cricket Board have moved closer to hosting the Australian men’s team, with the two boards agreeing on a tour schedule.
Australia are set to play Tests in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore in March, along with three ODIs and a Twenty20 match.
Australia have not played in Pakistan since Mark Taylor hit an unbeaten 334 in Peshawar in 1998, with security concerns meaning all tours since have been played in the United Arab Emirates.
International cricket has returned to the country in recent years for the first time since the Sri Lanka team bus bombing in 2009, but New Zealand’s withdrawal from a tour in September had clouded that.
At the time, New Zealand Cricket claimed to have seen a “specific and credible threat to the team” on the morning of the first ODI.
England have also pulled out of a subsequent tour, seriously questioning Australia’s trip to the country early next year.
But Australia are adamant they want to tour, in the biggest step towards a return to the country since former chief executive Kevin Roberts visited there in 2019.
“We’re going to work over the next three months, we’re going to do a [reconnaissance] in Pakistan,” Hockley told AAP.
“We will work with all relevant agencies to exercise due diligence to ensure safety programs are in place.
“As with any tour, the tour remains subject to all of these plans being in place.
“But certainly, there is a very strong intention to want to go there. International tours have resumed there.
“But as we always do, we will make the safety and well-being of players and staff the number one priority.”
The matches will also mark Australia’s first overseas Tests since the Ashes in 2019, with tours of South Africa and Bangladesh postponed due to COVID-19.
The news comes ahead of the semi-final between Australia and Pakistan at the Twenty20 World Cup, in the biggest game between the two teams for over a decade.
Hockley and AC’s new interim chairman Richard Freudenstein will travel to Dubai on Tuesday night for high-level ICC meetings to wrap up the tournament.
The Pakistan tour will no doubt be at the center of some discussion, with former PCB chief executive Wasim Khan criticizing Australia’s decision not to play ODI there in 2019.
Australia is also expected to speak to New Zealand officials about their withdrawal.
“We are in regular contact with all the other member countries,” Hockley said.
“We are all working so that international cricket can continue and thrive. We will be working over the next three months.
“The job over the next three months is to keep us happy to make sure all the plans are in place to make sure everyone is safe.”