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CA recce team set to visit Pakistan

As per Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, officials will visit Pak shortly on a fact-finding mission to determine the possibility of the scheduled visit in March.

cricket Updated: Feb 10, 2008 13:19 IST

Cricket Australia (CA) officials are visiting Pakistan shortly on a fact-finding mission to determine if the planned tour of the troubled South Asian country next month will proceed, CA chief James Sutherland said.

Cricket Australia's Michael Brown, Players' Association boss Paul Marsh, Australian team manager Steve Bernard and CA's security expert have been asked to be on standby to fly to Pakistan.

Sutherland said the timing of the recce team would be determined in consultation with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) but hinted it could be within days.

"We had discussions during the week and it is now up to them to suggest the appropriate time to visit, pre-elections or post-elections," Sutherland was quoted as saying by 'Sunday Telegraph'.

Pakistan has been on the boil since the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the country is to hold elections on February 18.

Ricky Ponting's team is due to arrive in Pakistan on March 12 to play three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match.

Sutherland said CA also was taking advice from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.

"Pakistan seems determined that the tour should proceed, but equally they are aware of the hot spots of political unrest," Sutherland said.

PCB has identified Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad for the matches but CA had said it had expressed reservations with the choice of the venues.

"Obviously it would be preferable to play at major venues away from any unrest. We have been to Pakistan often enough recently with A teams and under-19s to know what to expect at particular venues," the CA chief said.

The PCB has offered top security to the Australians including assigning of personal bodyguards to each player, roads being closed to all traffic as the team travels to and from grounds, and bomb disposal units to search the team bus each day.

An Australian terrorism expert, a professor at Macquarie University, had also warned cricketers not to visit Pakistan in March, claiming the volatile situation there was far from ideal for the tour.