Finch, Khawaja open to touring Pakistan for series


AUSTRALIA: Australian cricketers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch have said that they are content to let administrators make a call on Australia’s potential return to Pakistan, the prospect of which grows slimmer each day.

Finch’s team face India in a three-match ODI series which starts on Saturday in Sydney.

Australia then tackle India and Pakistan in two away ODI series which will serve as building blocks for a World Cup defence which is looking decidedly shaky.

Dates and venues for the trip to India were confirmed recently but details of the second series, in which Steve Smith and David Warner might potentially return from year-long suspensions, were yet to be locked in.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) remains upbeat that at least some part of the five-match series in March will be staged in Lahore or Karachi, marking Australia’s first visit since 1998.

The more likely scenario is the United Arab Emirates will host the entire series, with Cricket Australia (CA) citing safety concerns, foxsports reported.

Most teams have refused to tour Pakistan since 2009 when gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing,” Khawaja told reporters.

“We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me but it’s still a while away and we’ve (now) got three big games against the best nation in the world.”

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts declared to AAP a fortnight ago that “we’ll never compromise the safety of our players” and “we’ll be taking advice from the experts”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises Australians to “reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan due to the volatile security situation and high threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and sectarian violence”.

Tim Paine, George Bailey and Ben Cutting were part of a World XI who travelled to Pakistan in 2017, while compatriot Chris Green visited Lahore during last year’s Pakistan Super League.

“It would be great to get cricket back in Pakistan,” Finch said on Friday.