Ricky Ponting says most of Australia's players have concerns about touring Pakistan next month but he believes any individual who pulls out of the series will be in breach of their Cricket Australia contract. Andrew Symonds said on Wednesday he was unlikely to make the trip even if Cricket Australia deemed it safe, but Ponting said in that situation the players would be contractually obliged to tour.
"The rest of us, we've all got our concerns," Ponting said. "Cricket Australia have obviously got their concerns as well or we wouldn't be here talking about it now. Some of the players have got some concerns and Andrew has been a bit more public with his.
"It would actually be some sort of breach of a Cricket Australia contract, I would imagine. I think that's how it is set out at the moment, that you are to make yourself available for any international games that are scheduled to be played. I think that's how the Cricket Australia contract reads now. Whether it's unfair or not, we've all signed off on it."
The tour might still be cancelled, if Cricket Australia's security delegation decides the team's safety cannot be guaranteed, however Ponting said it would not be up to individual players to make those decisions. He said it was a completely different situation to when Stuart MacGill boycotted the tour of Zimbabwe in 2004 due to moral concerns.
"That's where the grey area will come out of this. There will be lots of safety and security measures put in place and there'll be all sorts of security checks done throughout Pakistan over the next few weeks to let us know as a player group whether it's actually safe to tour or not. If it is seen to be safe and you don't go, I think that's where the breach of your contract would be."
Symonds has voiced his concerns over the situation in Pakistan since November and his latest comments left little room for doubt about his reluctance to visit the country. Just hours after he said he was unlikely to go, Symonds was sold to Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League auction for US$1.35 million, which was the highest price paid for an Australian player.
Ponting said the timing of Symonds' statement was regrettable, as it would lead to speculation he was angling for more money due to his potential availability while the rest of the Australians might be in Pakistan. "I don't think it was planned for him to come out and make those statements yesterday," Ponting said.
"I just think it was a bit unfortunate that he was probably out doing a promotion appearance just before the events took place yesterday, otherwise we wouldn't have heard of it until today or the next opportunity he had to front the media. It's not the first time he's said it, he said it earlier in the year as well. So I think we all understand his feelings on touring Pakistan."