Roberts hopeful of upcoming Pakistan tour
The Cricket Australia CEO recently returned from a visit to Pakistan ahead of Australia's planned tour in 2022
20 September 2019, 07:49 PM AEST
Cricket Australia is hopeful its elite men's team will tour Pakistan in 2022 but won't rush a decision, chief executive Kevin Roberts says.
Roberts and CA's head of security Sean Carroll have just returned from Pakistan, the first visit of a high-level Australian delegation in more than a decade.
Australia haven't played in Pakistan since 1998 because of security concerns.
Roberts says his visit was aimed at strengthening relationships with the Pakistan Cricket Board rather than assessing whether Australia's 2022 tour would proceed.
"The beauty of the timing of this visit, we wanted it to happen well before we were faced with a key decision," Roberts told SEN radio.
"... The purpose was really to understand the landscape, look at the plans they have in place around security and then start expressing our expectations for the safety of our players and our support staff well over two years away from when we're due to tour.
"So that we're not dealing with that in a pressure-cooker environment a couple of months before the tour.
"Things are heading in the right direction, but in saying that we were travelling in armoured cars and escorted by police and felt very safe over there. But certainly that level of security is still required at this point."
Asked if Australia would again tour Pakistan, Roberts said: "I hope so.
"I really hope we do for the sake of world cricket and Australia's important relationship with Pakistan," he said.
"As I said to Pakistan, we share their desire for international cricket to return to their country.
"(But) we will never jeopardise the safety of our people and we will keep taking advice from experts on the way.
"We have got the next couple of years to hopefully plan for a tour in 2022 but we have just got to step that out gently, bit by bit, rather than rushing into it."
Australia is scheduled to play two Tests, three one-dayers and three Twenty20 games in Pakistan from late February 2022.
"Certainly there are parts of the country that unfortunately are very unsafe, but there's other parts of the country where I think a number of nations would contemplate playing again in the future when Pakistan are ready," Roberts said.
"In the spirit of appropriate leadership, I'm never going to ask anything of our people, be they players or support staff, that I haven't been prepared to do myself.
"I felt safe but won't be sending players over there until I can look them in the eye and tell them that they should feel safe as well."