‘Asia versus the west’: Pakistan tells Australia to be ‘responsible’ amid tour fears

Pakistan has urged Cricket Australia to be a responsible global cricket citizen, but it highly doubts Australia will honour its commitment to tour the country next year.

Declaring it had been “used and binned” by England and New Zealand, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja fears international cricket is entering an era of “Asia versus the west” where western countries can readily withdraw from tours of the subcontinent citing security concerns.

Australia’s men are slated to play Test, one-day international and Twenty20 series in Pakistan in February and March, but the PCB is expecting CA to follow in the footsteps of England and New Zealand.

Australia, New Zealand and the UK are members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes Canada and the US. The PCB wants western nations to trust its security agencies, which Ramiz says have been rated by those in the field as the best in world sport, instead of making calls “20,000 miles away”.

The chance of games being moved to the United Arab Emirates is slim, with Pakistan adamant it now has the necessary security measures in place to host matches instead of using a neutral venue.

Pakistan cricket is reeling after the withdrawals of England and New Zealand.Credit:AP

CA has been contacted for comment, but said earlier this week it intended to tour Pakistan and had no plans for that to change, but could not offer any guarantees.

Australia’s international reputation took a blow after it postponed a Test series in South Africa on health grounds, though teams visited New Zealand, the Caribbean and Bangladesh for white-ball tours, albeit weakened sides.

International cricket was returning to life in Pakistan, which did not host a Test for 10 years after a deadly shooting attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 in Lahore.

Ramiz fears the withdrawals of New Zealand and England, which have left a big hole in Pakistan’s international program, will have a “dominoes effect” with the West Indies and Australia potentially the next to fall. Australia has not played in Pakistan since 1998.

Pakistan is furious, believing England and New Zealand had not reciprocated the support it showed them by touring last year during the pandemic.

“I think Australia need to be responsible, it’s as simple as that,” Ramiz said.

“As it is, it’s a small cricket fraternity and Australia is a major player in that cricket fraternity. What use would Australia be to Pakistan if they act on NZ’s behaviour? Or if they see England withdrawing from Pakistan and take a call on England’s take on the situation.

“England’s take was not security, it was players being spooked, players being uncomfortable and players association being iffy. There’s no cricketing sense of that withdrawal.

“I just hope we’re able to convince Australia that Pakistan is safe. If it’s safe for the Australians in the PSL [Pakistan Super League], why can’t it be safe for the entire Australian cricket team?

“By the way, the neutral security agent we have here who goes all over the world has quoted Pakistan security as the best in the sporting world. It beats the football security, it beats the Formula One security. I don’t know how else we can convince the world that everything is fine here.”

The British High Commissioner to Pakistan said there had been no advice on security for England’s tour to be scrapped.

Ramiz, formally elected PCB chairman last month after a lengthy career as a player and commentator, says teams in Asia are “living on the edge when it comes to playing the western bloc”.

“That we’ve got to be at our best when we invite them here, and so we’re worried about other things we have to be absolutely 2000 per cent for them to travel to Asia, which is just not right,” Ramiz said.

“I don’t want this Asia versus the west, or west v rest debate to take precedence over the game of cricket, but it appears if security threat perception is to be made as a get-out clause then anyone of the members could have a problem with any other member.”

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