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March 7, 2008
Pakistan are concerned there will be long-term implications if, as expected, Australia pull out of their scheduled tour there due to security issues. It has become increasingly unlikely the series will go ahead in Pakistan but Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, has continued to rule out playing the games outside the country.
"Neutral venues are a dangerous option in terms of not benefiting the cricket of both the playing countries as there will not be a crowd from both the countries and such series are played for the sake of viewers of TV," Naghmi said in the Australian. "If we accept it [playing at neutral venues] then in future there will be no end to this practice and it can ruin cricket around the world.
"A cricket series not only involves two playing teams but also millions of fans from both sides. There are always huge crowds to witness such encounters and cricket series are not just for the sake of cricket's television viewers."
Naghmi was also confident that if the ICC was asked to assess safety in Pakistan it would find no reason teams should not tour. "All the countries have agreed to come here," Naghmi told the Age. "If it comes to that it would be nine countries versus one in the sense that other countries have been happy to tour Pakistan. It is only Australia that hasn't come here for many, many years now."
Cricket Australia was briefed by the Australian government this week following bomb blasts in Lahore on Tuesday. Australia's players are reluctant to play in Pakistan and the Australian Cricketers' Association will not send a representative with a pre-tour security delegation. Naghmi said Pakistan were ready for Australia to pull out, although they hoped that would not happen.
"If they think they cannot tour we will think about the steps to follow at that stage," he said. "We are bracing ourselves for all decisions. The worst is that they will not come. We will be disappointed, obviously."
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