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Australia still keen to tour Pakistan

The Australian team is 'passionately keen' to tour Pak in April next year, despite the postponement of next month's Champions Trophy tournament over security concerns.

cricket Updated: Aug 25, 2008 12:34 IST

The Australian cricket team is "passionately keen" to tour Pakistan in April next year, despite the postponement of next month's Champions Trophy tournament over security concerns.

Cricket Australia is "desperately hoping" political turmoil in Pakistan eases in time for the scheduled 2009 tour, which would be Australia's first to the Islamic republic since 1998, CA spokesman Peter Young said on Monday.

Australia was scheduled to travel to Pakistan earlier this year, but that tour was postponed because of civil unrest caused by the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Under a revised itinerary, Australia will travel to Pakistan for five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match in April, before returning in 2010 for a three-test series.

"What we're all hoping now is the situation in Pakistan allows us to go there next year," Young said. "We're passionately keen to be able to do that.

"The former president (Musharraf) is now resigned and we're all hoping the civil situation returns to order," he added. "We haven't had a senior Australian team in Pakistan for a long time." The International Cricket Council announced Sunday the Champions Trophy limited-overs tournament would be postponed from next month until October, 2009. The ICC made the decision in the face of a possible boycott of the limited overs tournament by Australia, the defending champions, New Zealand, England and South Africa. Young said the future of the scheduled tour would depend on advice Australia received from security experts.

"If the expert advice says it's safe, we go and we're happy to recommend to players that we go," he said. "If the safety and security advice says it's not safe then we don't go and our track record speaks for itself on that front."

Young said safety and security issues existed in almost every country in the world that Australia played cricket, with the exception of New Zealand.

"Professional risk assessment says the risk is acceptable in some of those places. Unfortunately at the moment, it's not acceptable in Pakistan."

Meanwhile, acting Australia captain Michael Clarke welcomed the ICC's decision to postponed the Champions Trophy. "It's a great result for all the players just to find out whether we're going or not going," Clarke said Monday. "I think all the guys are happy now we know now the that ICC, Cricket Australia and ACA (Australian Cricketers' Association) would make a decision and they've finally done that."