Pakistan may delay Australia series till April

February 20th, 2008 - 2:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto

Melbourne, Feb 20 (IANS) With a question mark hanging over the cricket series in March as a new government is yet to be formed, Pakistan is set to ask Australia to delay the tour till April and play a shorter series, the media reported here Wednesday. “We have had discussions with the PCB and they have proposed a new way ahead. We are waiting for them to detail how they think that might look. The underlying principle is still the same - that safety and security is the first priority before we go anywhere in the world,” a Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman was quoted as saying by The Age.

The newspaper reported that Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Shafqat Naghmi is believed to have emerged from talks in Kuala Lumpur with his CA counterpart James Sutherland with a proposal to keep the possibility of an Australian visit alive.

It was unclear Tuesday night whether the tour would be reduced to a one-day series only - the original programme contained three Tests and five one-dayers - but it is believed the proposal is for a truncated series.

Australian players including captain Ricky Ponting, all-rounder Andrew Symonds and fast bowler Stuart Clark all have voiced their nervousness about travelling to Pakistan since former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec 27 last year, raising the prospect of a player boycott if CA decides to press ahead with the tour.

But the PCB appears to be pinning its hopes on putting breathing space between the elections held amid unprecedented security on Monday and the tour, which was scheduled to begin early next month. CA had not yet committed to undertaking a pre-tour security visit.

The PCB also has been exploring contingency plans, including an Indian or Sri Lankan visit.

Australian Cricketers Association president Darren Lehmann said Tuesday he was still unsure of the status of the proposed tour, despite having daily talks with the federal government.

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