Pakistan's failed plea for Aussie ODI tour

Pakistan Cricket Board managing director Wasim Khan has explained why he feels his organisation's negotiations with Cricket Australia regarding a tour failed.

AARON FINCH of Australia plays a shot during game two of the One Day International series between Australia and England at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.
AARON FINCH of Australia plays a shot during game two of the One Day International series between Australia and England at The Gabba in Brisbane, Australia. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

The impact of the Cape Town cheating scandal was global and its ripples were obvious but also obscure.

Just ask the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The PCB was desperate to host Aaron Finch's team for at least some portion of this year's ODI series, a key tune-up for the sides facing off in Wednesday's World Cup clash.

Instead, it was played entirely in front of largely vacant stands in the UAE.

The prospect of Australia touring Pakistan for the first time since 1998 was floated but ultimately never came close to fruition.

There was no old-school obstinance from Cricket Australia (CA), whose refusal to tour on safety grounds came prior to its security chief Sean Carroll's inspection of arrangements at the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Karachi that featured Shane Watson.

Rather, the PCB sensed new chairman Earl Eddings and chief executive Kevin Roberts were seemingly busy putting CA's own house in order following a scathing independent review.

"What didn't help was the change of chairman and CEO," PCB managing director Wasim Khan told AAP during the ODI series in March.

"That didn't add to the sort of dialogue and communication that perhaps should have taken place. Because they had other things on their mind, maybe the easiest thing was to say 'not this time but we'll consider it next time'.

"The timing wasn't ideal.

"The level of expectation on both sides was also probably different. We would have loved Sean Carroll to come over and look at what we'd put in place. Them showing us the courtesy of doing a recce ... Sean making his own judgment on our security.

"It was disappointing that didn't happen.

"CA said they'd consulted with Canberra, who'd not been very positive about the team touring. I don't know how much dialogue took place with the High Commission in Pakistan, I think it was a silo decision and of course saying no is always going to be the easiest option."

Carroll was on deck for the PSL final in March but CA's decision had already been made, with Australia's next away series against Pakistan slated for 2022.

The boards' relationship remained sound despite the setback, as evidenced by Pakistan later agreeing to play a day-night Test in Adelaide this summer.

CA made it clear, publicly and privately, that it wants international cricket returning to Pakistan but the safety of players and staff is of paramount importance.

Finch echoed that sentiment in Taunton this week, suggesting he'd "love" to play in Pakistan but it was up to boards to decide whether it's now safe enough to tour.

Determining whether Pakistan, scene of a 2009 terrorist attack in which Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked by 12 gunmen outside Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium, is safe to tour is obviously a complex call.

Watson, Carroll and Test skipper Tim Paine, who toured Pakistan in 2017 as part of a World XI, are among the few Australians with first-hand insights.

"I spoke with Sean (after the PSL final). He was happy with the plans, implementation ... comfortable," Khan said.

"As with most things, there are always areas we can be better at but they're not major things.

"We are absolutely confident with security measures."

Khan, the first British-born Muslim to play county cricket and a former chief executive of county Leicestershire, has achieved much since joining the PCB in 2018 but regular international fixtures at home remains an unfulfilled priority.

There is a literal cost to playing so much cricket in the UAE, with Khan noting "we can't keep forking our the amount of money we do ... it's not sustainable", but also a stack of opportunity costs.

"It's heartbreaking to see some of our players debut at empty stadiums in a home series, rather than full houses," he said.

"We need to make sure cricket grows in Pakistan. That international teams tour, local heroes play and inspire the next generation.

"A few years ago, people talked about the demise of the West Indies and how important it is for world cricket collectively to get together and help.

"Now it's our turn ... we need that support, come back to Pakistan and play."


AAP