Pakistan tour divides Australian cricketers

July 11th, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  


Melbourne, July 11 (IANS) The Australian cricket team is a divided lot over the Champions Trophy being organised in strife-torn Pakistan, with Andrew Symonds insisting the risk is not worth taking. But while Symonds who was the first Australian player to oppose the now postponed scheduled Test tour of Pakistan in March, sticks to his stance, other Australians stars said they would have no problems touring Pakistan for the Champions Trophy in September.

With the latest suicide bomb attack killing 20 people in Islamabad this week, cricket bosses are under increasing pressure to shift the competition to South Africa.

Australia would almost certainly pull out of the event if it was staged in Pakistan, with a decision likely to be made within a fortnight after reports from security experts.

However, all-rounder Shane Watson said he had no reservations about representing his country in Pakistan.

“Personally, I would go anywhere to play,” Watson was quoted as saying by a daily. “I just want to play for my country. I’ve worked hard and had some up and down times this past year, so I’d go anywhere.”

However, Symonds continued to light the fuse for a player boycott by insisting he was not willing to put his safety at risk.

“My feelings haven’t changed a great deal from last time,” Symonds was quoted as saying in the Herald Sun.

“I don’t mind the odd game of cricket for Australia, but it is only a game at the end of the day. Putting yourself in a position where you’re not safe, to me, is ridiculous.

“When the time comes, it will be left for individuals to make their own decisions when serious things like this happen,” he added.

In the absence of the injured Ricky Ponting, Australia’s stand-in captain Michael Clarke said he would be happy to follow the recommendations of Cricket Australia’s (CA) security consultant Reg Dickason in regards to touring Pakistan.

“I think there will be talk about it in the next few weeks, but I’ll just wait to see what the ICC, Cricket Australia and ACA come up with and go from there,” Clarke said.

“I think the right thing is happening with sending over people who have the knowledge and an understanding of what is happening in Pakistan.”

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