The Pakistan-Australia series scheduled to start in March could be relocated to Australia if player safety cannot be guaranteed in Pakistan, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. The paper quoted an unnamed Pakistan board member who said the PCB would consider swapping hosting duties with Australia.
That would mean that if the switch went ahead the next scheduled Australia home series between the two sides, listed for November 2009, would be held in Pakistan. "It is only the last resort, only a worst-case scenario, but if something happens and Australia can't come, then the board will discuss playing the series in Australia," the board member told the paper.
"If worst comes to worst, then perhaps [playing in Australia] is a better idea, as long as we swap. That would be an acceptable scenario. I would like the Pakistani spectators to watch Australia in their own stadiums, now or next year. But the first priority is that Australia comes here.
"A neutral venue is out. It doesn't help anybody to play at a neutral venue, if it is played in a third country those spectators wouldn't be interested, and we would rather entertain Australian crowds than fans from other countries."
Pakistan are still keen for Australia to visit despite the political unrest in the country, and Cricket Australia are planning to send a security delegation to assess the conditions next month. Switching the games to Australia would pose logistical problems with most of the major venues packed with rugby and Australian rules football matches from late March onwards.
Phil Jaques, who has twice toured Pakistan with Australia A in recent years, said the players had full confidence in whatever Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association decided. "There's obviously a few issues there at the moment," he told Mag4you.com, "which Cricket Australia will have a look at closer to the time. Cricket Australia and the ACA will have processes in place and we will go by what they say.
"I've been there before and people have always been good but they're in a different time in their whole make-up at the moment with elections on. I was a little bit uneasy before I went I suppose but everything went to plan, everything went smoothly.
"It's a little bit confined to the hotel, that's how we approached it last year. Generally speaking, the security is pretty tight and they give presidential-style security. The processes will be in place this time around, so we will see what the climate is like over there."