Hayden 'open' to touring Pakistan
The opportunity to defend Australia's Champions trophy title could lure Matthew Hayden, the opening batsman, into touring Pakistan in September, despite fears of player safety during the tournament. Hayden, who wasn't part of the 2006 edition in India, said he would make his decision based on the security briefings by Cricket Australia.
"We're on the eve of competing in what's known as the second World Cup," Hayden was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "We don't want to walk away. It's certainly one that I want to be involved in if it means that my safety is not compromised."
Following a security briefing in Dubai on Sunday, the ICC board has said it would wait until Thursday to make a final decision on Pakistan's status as hosts. An ICC official said their chances have been pegged as '50-50' after the briefing, which was attended by board officials of the eight participating countries, broadcast executives, and players' association representatives. Sri Lanka was named as the official alternative venue.
Political strife and a series of bomb blasts in Pakistan compelled Australia to postpone their tour of the country earlier this year. Ricky Ponting, the captain, had indicated last month some of his players were uneasy with touring. Andrew Symonds, the allrounder, had expressed reservations but on the contrary, Shane Watson and Nathan Hauritz stated they were willing to tour.
Hayden however, said he would follow the advice of experts before committing to the tour, which runs from September 11 to 28 in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore.
"Last time, I felt we were briefed very well before we cancelled our tour," Hayden said. "We're going to get the information from the experts and we can sit down together with Cricket Australia, with the ACA (Australian Cricketers Association), with the playing group and make a decision based on that.
"If the information from security came back saying 'Yes, there are dangers as there are in any place you travel but I think it is fine to go', I would take that on board before I made my decision."
Another issue facing Hayden is his fitness, after he was forced to pull-out of the tour of West Indies recently due to an achilles injury. He was however named in the Champions Trophy probables and has a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh starting next month at home to prove his fitness.