Cricket Australia Board have cancelled the Australian men’s cricket team’s tour of Pakistan – scheduled to start next month – because of concerns about players’ safety. Three Test matches were scheduled for September but after seeking advice from the Australian government, ACB Chairman Bob Merriman said there was an “increasing security risk for the Australian team in Pakistan”.

The Australian board, however, added they would play their scheduled fixtures, providing they are played at a neutral venue. CA said in an official statement, “We remain open to the idea of playing in the country again”. Pakistan are expected to host Australia for a five-match ODI series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March. After renewing the talks last month, PCB tried to convince CA to send their team to Pakistan to play at least two matches.

On the flip side, the PCB said it is “still waiting for a response from the CA”, stressing that discussions with them are ongoing.

In May this year a bomb exploded near to the New Zealand team hotel when they were preparing for a Test match in Karachi.

According to a statement released by the PCB, the board’s chairman wrote a letter to the CA chairman on January 7. It was suggested in the letter that the CA “as part of a standard protocol and process for bilateral series” send their reconnaissance team to Pakistan so they may review Pakistan’s security arrangements via presentations before making a call about touring the country.

A CA spokesperson while indicating that Australia had safety concerns, stressed the fact that it was not backing out from playing in the country again.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan — the country has a huge passion for it.

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

The spokesperson suggested that the Pakistan series would go ahead as scheduled in the UAE, but the CA could again consider the idea of playing in Pakistan in the future. “We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” they added.

The exact dates for the series has not announced as yet by PCB. There is a possibility that Steve Smith and David Warner, who were suspended for ball tampering, may make their international return at the end of their ban on March 29.

(With Quotes from Sydney Morning Herald)