Shaun Pollock shares a light moment with a security personnel during South Africa's visit to Pakistan in 2007 © AFP
 

As uncertainty continues to surround Australia's tour to Pakistan, the PCB has taken financial cover in order to avoid big losses in case the tour is cancelled or shifted to a neutral venue. A report in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the PCB has insured the tour for US$7.4 million, and would stand to lose only $500,000 in gate receipts if the tour doesn't go ahead as planned.

According to the report, Pakistan began taking the aid of insurance after a planned charity match against India in Scotland was washed out last summer. The organisers didn't suffer a loss in that situation as they were insured.

"We thought, if a country doesn't agree with touring here, we should insure," Shafqat Naghmi, the board's chief operating officer, said. "There were a variety of reasons we insured ... if the series doesn't go ahead, we won't lose much financially. But if there were any issues of safety for Australia, we would be the first ones to say something."

Meanwhile, David Morgan, the ICC president-elect, said it would be unfortunate if Australia didn't tour Pakistan. "I believe that the processes are in place and that they will be invoked quite properly, and I would hope that cricketers can be protected and looked after in Pakistan," he told AAP. "Pakistan has a great tradition of cricket, they have some very fine cricketers, and it would be rather sad if it turned out that there were good reasons why that tour couldn't proceed.

"Zimbabwe are in Pakistan currently and I hope that the level of safety and security will be such that cricket tours to Pakistan can go ahead, as they have done in recent years."

Pakistan went through a turbulent 2007, with a number of suicide attacks throughout the country. On top of it all, in late December, the country was rocked by the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi, in another suicide attack. That led to further instability in the country, eventually leading to the postponement of general elections, which will now be held on February 18.

Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee have already expressed concerns over the tour, scheduled in March-April, while other reports suggest that Australia's players can opt out of the tour without breaching their contract in case even if it goes ahead. Former Pakistan captains Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, as well as the present captain Shoaib Malik and coach Geoff Lawson, an Australian, have tried the ease of the concerns of the visitors and requested them not to pull out of the tour.

Australia has not visited Pakistan since 1998-99; the 2002-03 series was shifted to Sri Lanka and Sharjah because of security concerns. Morgan said the ICC could send in security consultants to assess the situation; Cricket Australia is expected to send a security delegation to Pakistan in February after the elections before a final decision is made.