Aussies still wary of touring Pakistan: Waugh
Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney: Australian cricketers continue to have reservations about playing in Pakistan, Test skipper Steve Waugh said here on Tuesday after the latest upsurge in violence there. Australia is due to tour Pakistan in October but there is renewed jitters after gunmen stormed a Christian school and killed six Pakistanis on Monday in the sixth strike on foreign targets this year. Australia is scheduled to play three Tests in Pakistan between October 1 to 24, but is reluctant to visit due to security fears in the wake of the on-going war in Afghanistan, attacks on foreigners and tension on the India-Pakistan border. Waugh said his team had to assume the scheduled series would proceed, but that didn't prevent the players from being apprehensive about going there. Leading Australian players Shane Warne, Mark Waugh and Glenn McGrath have said they do not want to tour Pakistan, but Steve Waugh said he would be happy to go if it was deemed safe. He stressed though that the players would rely on information from other sources."I think every one (of the players) would have some slight reservations after what's happened in the past, it's only natural," Waugh said. "You've really got to be guided by High Commissions and those places tell you what the feeling is, whether it's safe for tourists to go there. In conjunction with the Australian Cricket Board you've got to make a decision whether you're going to go or not," he said. "At this stage we've got to assume we're going to be playing in Pakistan." Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia last week threatened to lead an Asian boycott of Australia if the Aussies refuse to tour Pakistan, but has since played down his comments. Waugh said he was considering offers to play English county cricket in a bid to get some match practice for the proposed Test series against Pakistan. Waugh, who was dropped from the national One-day team earlier this year making way for Ricky Ponting to become captain, said being out of the One-day side was not an ideal preparation for the Pakistan Test series. "It's particularly hard if you're not in the One-day side at the moment because you are not sure how you are going to prepare for the Test match series and when it's going to be or where you are going to play it at," Waugh said. "It's not an easy time to prepare because you'd like to know what type of wicket you're going to be playing on." He said he had talked to a couple of English counties this week. "There's an opportunity there to go and play county cricket, so that would be a possibility because there's nothing back here and it's not a good preparation going into a three-Test series against Pakistan not playing a game of cricket." Waugh said he would never give up on getting back into the Australian One-day team, but said realistically it would be a difficult task ahead of the World Cup in South Africa early next year.