Sydney: Pakistan cricket officials remain opposed to switching to neutral venues for the upcoming Australia tour despite the world champions set to pull out over security fears, reports said here Friday.
Cricket Australia is set to withdraw from this month's tour after receiving a briefing from local foreign ministry officials on Pakistan's volatile security situation, newspaper reports said.
CA spokesman Peter Young said a decision was likely within the next few days in the wake of the briefing in Canberra last Wednesday.
The reports said CA was awaiting a report from its security consultant before informing Pakistan of its decision.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it opposed moving the tour to venues outside of the South Asian nation to alleviate Australia's security concerns because it would have long-term implications for cricket.
"If we accept it (playing at neutral venues) then in future there will be no end to this practice and it can ruin cricket around the world," PCB chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi told The Australian newspaper.
"A cricket series not only involves two playing teams but also millions of fans from both sides, and there are always huge crowds to witness such encounters and cricket series are not just for the sake of cricket's television viewers."
Naghmi said holding the series at neutral venues would also fail to help development of cricket in Pakistan.
He told Melbourne's The Age newspaper that the PCB was confident that the International Cricket Council would declare Pakistan safe for cricket, if it was asked.
"We are confident on the basis that we have had two tours (West Indies and South Africa) that went all right," he said.
"All the countries have agreed to come here. If it comes to that it would be nine countries versus one in the sense that other countries have been happy to tour Pakistan," he said.
"It is only Australia that hasn't come here for many, many years now."
The PCB is slated to host an Asian Cricket Council event in June and the Champions' Trophy in September.
The Australian team has not played in Pakistan for a decade. In 2002 a series that was scheduled for Pakistan was shifted to Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
CA is yet to decide whether it will send a delegation to Pakistan to assess the situation, but the Australian Cricketers' Association board has already voted not to send officials on a pre-tour visit because it is too dangerous.
Players have made it privately clear they will not tour because of continuing violence, The Australian said.
A double suicide bombing at a top naval college in Lahore, Pakistan's second biggest city, on Tuesday was the latest in a wave of deadly attacks against security forces and other targets this year.
Musharraf offers foolproof security:
Meanwhile, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf assured that the government will provide ''best possible security'' cover to the international cricket event.
''Australia will be provided the best possible security cover during their stay in Pakistan,'' Musharraf was quoted as saying by the News.
The President expressed the hope that the Australian team will not cancel its tour to Pakistan.
President Musharraf met Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Nasim Ashraf yesterday and pledged all possible support for the tour.