Lahore: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Nasim Ashraf has spoken of severe consequences if Australia refuse to tour for security reasons, including the possibility of a boycott in 2009, when Pakistan are next due to visit Australia.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald and papers in Pakistan, Ashraf has sent an e-mail to Cricket Australia Chairman Creagh O'Connor urging him to send a security delegation to Pakistan one week after Feb 18 general elections in Pakistan.
With the two boards apparently at an impasse on account of Australia's well-founded security concerns and Pakistan's refusal to countenance a neutral venue, Ashraf expressed fears the international Future Tours Program (FTP) could fall apart if the world champions did not fulfill their commitments.
"It would be very damaging to Pakistan cricket and it is not just Pakistan-specific, because no country in the world is safe from terrorist acts. If we start letting this dictate our sports events, then I am afraid the whole world of cricket could be turned upside down and it could have serious repercussions financially and for the very existence of the FTPs," Ashraf was quoted, as saying.
Cricket Australia's general manager of cricket operations, Michael Brown, said he was awaiting the outcome of the election and had asked the PCB to provide further instructions
Ashraf showed no sign of backing away from his long-held stance that the series will be played in Pakistan or not at all, while CA is intent on playing the three Tests and five ODIs somewhere.
If they are cancelled its players could be free to represent private franchises in the Indian Premier League.
"In terms of actual venues, there is no problem because we can be flexible about that if Cricket Australia has any reservations about a particular venue," Ashraf said.
There was further upheaval in the international program yesterday when Australia's winter Test series against Bangladesh was scrapped because of a clash with the Beijing Olympics. Instead, CA has scheduled three one-day internationals against Bangladesh in Darwin from Aug 31, and will use them as warm-up games for the Champions Trophy, due to be played in Pakistan in September.
The two Tests have been postponed until 2010, granting Ricky Ponting's Test players an unexpected break in a 2008 schedule that initially was packed with 20 Tests but could be trimmed back to 14 if the Pakistan tour is cancelled.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has said that it would like to play Tests other than at Darwin and Cairns and said three one-dayers were not good enough.