Need to be 'kind and patient' with Australia players who opt out of Pakistan tour, says ACA chief
Todd Greenberg assures players that he will travel to Pakistan with them; Nick Hockley is also expected to make the trip
Todd Greenberg, the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief, has assured the country's cricketers that he would travel to Pakistan with the squad if the tour gets the go-ahead, and would be fine with "one or two players" backing out of the trip.
"I've made an assurance to the players that they won't go alone," Greenberg was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. "If they're going to Pakistan, I'll be going with them and I think that's important. It's an opportunity to show the players that we're in this together.
"The ACA accompanied Cricket Australia on a pre-tour of Pakistan late last year, and the reports were all very positive. But we'll continue to take the advice of DFAT [Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] and other government organisations, as we need to be able to satisfy not just the players, but their families, that it's safe to tour."
International teams have been reluctant to travel to Pakistan since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, though international cricket has taken place in fits and starts in the country recently. If Australia get the security clearance to travel, it would be Australia's first tour to Pakistan since 1998, when Mark Taylor's side won the three-Test series 1-0.
"There may be one or two players who won't be comfortable despite the best advice we give, and that's OK, we need to respect that," Greenberg said.
He stressed that while Australia were keen to fulfil their international commitments, they would allow players to make their own choices. "We have to be kind and patient with each other, and there'll be a player or two who say, 'You know what, this is not for me at this particular point in my life and career, I'm not comfortable going'," he told SEN Radio during the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney. "If that's the case, we need to have great respect for that."
CA chief executive Nick Hockley is also planning to travel to Pakistan for at least a part of the tour, while the interim chair Richard Freudenstein may visit for a period to meet with his counterpart Ramiz Raja, unless a new permanent chair is chosen by then, according to the report in the newspaper.
Pakistan are scheduled to host Australia in March-April for three Tests, three ODIs and one T20I, with the Tests in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore, which will also host all the limited-overs matches.