Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has been recruited by the ICC to try and ensure that the best players turn up to Pakistan for the Champions Trophy, to be held in September in Lahore and Karachi.
Lawson, who has been a consistent advocate for international teams coming to play in Pakistan, left Pakistan for Australia in the early hours of the morning. He is expected to visit New Zealand as well and will be gone for approximately 12 days, addressing concerns of the two countries whose players have been most anxious over visiting Pakistan.
"The ICC made the request about ten days ago," Mansoor Suhail, a PCB spokesman, "He has been living here and he is Australian so it is a good thing. He will go meet players and tell them what it is like here."
The trip is funded by the ICC's task force, which is currently in Pakistan assessing venues and security arrangements ahead of the tournament. "It is a very logical thing to do," Suhail said. "They are funding the trip and hopefully it will assuage the concerns of leading players and convince them to come here." Haroon Lorgat, the ICC president, said on Monday that the task force would visit Australia, New Zealand and England in an attempt to convince the players to tour Pakistan.
The task force has taken considerable input from Lawson as well as David Dwyer, the team trainer and another Australian, during their time in Lahore. Lawson had recently expressed delight over the "positive voices" coming from Australia and New Zealand, after umpire Simon Taufel said he was willing to tour and Ian Chappell, the former Australian captain, made remarks supportive of playing cricket in Pakistan.
Following the ICC board's decision last month to go ahead with the tournament in Pakistan, players' associations in Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa had raised concerns over the security situation, even warning of a possible boycott. Similar doubts were echoed by international captains Graeme Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Ricky Ponting. Pietersen, who was recently appointed captain, had called on the ECB to take the decision last month, which has been delayed pending the task force's assessment. On Monday, Daniel Vettori had asked New Zealand Cricket to take a final call on touring.