AAP and ESPNcricinfo staff
The Australian Cricketers' Association is bracing for a small number of players to pull out of the tour of Pakistan due to safety concerns, despite reassurances about the situation.
Australia last toured Pakistan in 1998, but the 24-year wait will end on March 4 when the three-Test series begins in Rawalpindi. The long-awaited tour will also feature three ODIs and one T20I.
Some players are still nervous about entering Pakistan due to safety fears. Despite the tour being given the all-clear, ACA chief executive Todd Greenberg says there are some who might pull out.
"Clearly there's some anxiety about touring, and that's perfectly natural given an Australian cricket team hasn't toured Pakistan for almost 25 years," Greenberg told SEN. "I think we'll have a very full squad that will go.
"We may have one or two players that won't be comfortable despite all of the advice and guidance that we provide, and that's okay. "Along with Cricket Australia, we'll need to respect those players and give them our full support if they decide not to make this tour."
"There are a couple of players still keen to get a bit more information but everyone is really pumped and feeling relatively comfortable," he said. "If anyone doesn't make the tour it is absolutely okay, we will back them for sure."
The onset of war in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001 following the September 11 attacks in the US and a 2009 gunfire attack on a Sri Lanka team bus, meant Australia deemed a tour of Pakistan too risky until now.
Instead, Pakistan have been forced to host Australia in the United Arab Emirates several times over the past two decades.
Cricket Australia sent a delegation of staff to Pakistan in December along with government officials to determine whether it was safe for Australia to tour. Greenberg said the tour of Pakistan was an important moment for international cricket.
"The players completely understand our contribution to the global game," he said. "We don't have an expectation that we will sit here and expect teams to tour our country and not contribute ourselves.
"There's been an enormous amount of work on security detail and keeping players safe. That's priority No.1. On top of that is all the Covid protocols and the biosecurity rules and regulations."
The tour squad is expected to be named on Tuesday.