Pakistan Super League 2016 February 20, 2016

'I'd go to Pakistan but I'd be scared' - Russell


'If I have to go, I'll go. But if I don't have to, I don't mind' - Andre Russell on the possibility of playing in Pakistan © Associated Press

West Indies allrounder Andre Russell has said he would be willing, but "scared", to travel to Pakistan if the Pakistan Super League (PSL) were to be played there next year. Russell, who represents Islamabad United in the PSL, said he was only being defensive based on the knowledge he had gathered about the security situation in Pakistan from reading and listening in the media.

"Based on what I have heard and stuff you know, I mean, I am going to be scared obviously," Russell told ESPNcricinfo, when asked if he would play in Pakistan. "But, for some reason, I would go to Pakistan. But listen, I am going to be scared. That's the thing."

Last year, Zimbabwe became the first international team to play in Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore. The ICC, however, has not yet given a clean chit to the security situation in Pakistan. On the eve of the PSL, Najam Sethi, the league's chairman, had revealed that hosting a few matches in the major cities of Pakistan in the second season was definitely part of his plan.

Russell explained his fear, equating travelling to Pakistan to going to war-torn Iraq. "It is like me going to Iraq based on what I have heard about Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Pakistan. I've seen pictures, beautiful places, beautiful people. But it is [about] what is surrounding [them]," Russel said.

Russell even gave the example of walking through the streets back home in Jamaica. "A lot of crime going on in Jamaica. I'm from Jamaica. I'm going to tell, Jamaica is the most beautiful place in the world. You are going to say, "No, but, they are shooting people." I will say, no, no. Don't worry. So it is going to be similar [about going to Pakistan]. So if I have to go, I'll go. But if I don't have to, I don't mind."

Russell is the first high-profile overseas player in the PSL to express a willingness to play in Pakistan. In the past few weeks, other players such as Australia's Shane Watson and Russell's West Indies teammate and Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy have said they would travel subject to security clearance.

Watson, who was picked by Islamabad in the draft, said he had pleasant memories of Pakistan, having already toured the country in 2005 with Australia A. "I had a really good time while playing in Pakistan in 2005 during the Australia A team tour," he said on the eve of the PSL. "However, security is the most important thing and if players around the world are declared to be very safe I will be happy to play there.

"I love playing cricket wherever it is around the world. If security situation continues to get better there, it will be nice and Pakistan hadn't had home team advantage for a long time now because of security concerns and hopefully it works out their way soon."

Sammy, who plays for Peshawar Zalmi, said he felt bad for fans in Pakistan who have been deprived of international cricket for a long time. While conceding that playing the PSL in the teams' home cities would could fill the vacuum, Sammy said the decision to travel was not his.

"Well, to be honest, these decisions are never ours," Sammy said at a media conference in the first week of the tournament. "It is the government and the cricket body to decide, but what I could tell you is that the fans of Pakistan cricket have been missing some good international cricket.

"We as cricketers get to play in front of our home fans and that is something Pakistan have not had an opportunity [to experience], to play in front of their own people for a while. It is sad, but hopefully things could get resolved and every territory could get a chance of playing cricket before their own crowd."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • irfan on February 23, 2016, 18:38 GMT

    Russell, you can go to pakistan and don't believe on propaganda. You may asks from DAV WATMORE how Pakistan safe is.

  • shiraz on February 23, 2016, 12:28 GMT

    CHITTI_CRICKET not 90% Pakistanis want peace its 99.90% Pakistanis want peace and thank Dear Mighty Allah things are improving since 2013 Army operation. now Pakistan is a safe country and only who visited Pakistan can tell how much hospitality we have. members who giving negative comments so please don't make a dreamy world or believe on media. ask someone who is belong from pakistan or living in pakistan. thank you

  • Muhammad on February 23, 2016, 1:26 GMT

    If he does not want to come then don't push him. It is his loss. He has not seen Pakistan and is being unnecessarily judgemental.

  • Arun on February 22, 2016, 16:17 GMT

    @ARIF MAJEED: Asian countries continued to tour Pakistan after all non-asian countries stopped. What broke the camel's back was the attack on the SRL team, thoroughly debunking the idea that the terrorists would never target cricket. THe issues you talk about re India are political protests, and the IPL doesn't want a PR risk related to possible protests/unruly behavior *outside* the stadium; makes visitors jittery and bad for business, but the players themselves have tight security; it's like getting into an airport for those stadiums. Better to drop players for those games, and the problem goes away. Pakistan's security problem re. cricket is not ethnicity-specific: cricket has been targeted, and the security forces found to be incompetent. SRL had no political issues with Pakistan, and yet was targeted. India as yet hasn't had a bomb go off in the team hotel, or a cricketer getting shot, or grenades lobbed at the team bus.Your analogy is flawed in that respect.

  • Sami on February 22, 2016, 12:59 GMT

    Hey FANS; don't worry, by the 2018 a five star hotel and full size modern cricket stadium will be built in Behria Town Karachi. you all know Behria town is safe, secure and well managed project. So PSL can go there and all the pakistan can have fun.

  •   Arif Majeed on February 22, 2016, 9:46 GMT

    Sri Lanka can't play in Chennai. Bangladesh can't play in Kolkata. Pakistan can't play in Mumbai, etc etc... Yet you say India is a safe place for cricket and other sports. Really check.... Its actually the money in offer which drags players from around the world to India. Nothing else. Lets just think PSL happens in Pakistan and the board earns more money than in UAE. So they can offer handsome amounts to the foreign. You will see everybody gets ready to travel there. Wait and see.

  • Thomas on February 22, 2016, 8:20 GMT

    Pakistan couldn't secure the top of a jam jar...look what happened in 2009.

  •   Michael Dickson on February 22, 2016, 7:52 GMT

    Q4Qasim, you're so wrong that I can't even elaborate properly if you think Pakistan is more secure than any other country. Australia and NZ are far more secure than Pakistan, as are many other countries. The fact of the matter is most westerners can visit your country safely as they are low key, but an international sports team is a completely different thing.

  • Sreejith on February 22, 2016, 7:16 GMT

    Pak fans... they miss lot of int. cricket. their country produced world level fast bowlers.. Wasim Akram s such a great player whome i rate above all pak players. The terrorists making the players feel unsecure... government should make sure the safety and moreover the players of the list of greats in the fans mind ie, like wasim, insamam, miyandad, akther should come up and appeal to public to make the event succesfull... all the best ... am from the other side of the border.

  • Muthuvel on February 22, 2016, 6:06 GMT

    Its not the same Russel, Every country has crime but locals know that these things get exaggerated and it will be alright when you actually live there. But in the case of certain places in the world, targets are acquired based on their shock value and then exploited.

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