Australian must honor its tour to Pakistan in 2022

Pakistan v Australia: 2nd Test - Day Four
Pakistan v Australia: 2nd Test - Day Four
Casey McCarthy

Pakistan continued their dominant run in this year's T20 World Cup, defeating Scotland by 72 runs in Sharjah. That victory set the scene for a clash with Australia in the semi-final on Thursday.

Pending Australia's commitment to touring Pakistan in 2022, the two sides should again meet in the near future on Asian soil. Australia are slated to return to Pakistan for three Tests, three ODIs and three T20s in February/March next year.

Australian tours to Pakistan a distant memory

The Australian side has not toured Pakistan since 1998, when current head coach Justin Langer opened the batting. In that game, then captain Mark Taylor scored a much-remembered 334*.

#OnThisDay in 1998, Mark Taylor equalled Don Bradman's score of 334* 🔥 It was the highest individual score for Australia in Tests until Matthew Hayden surpassed it in 2003!

The next scheduled tour of Pakistan in 2002 was moved to Sri Lanka and the UAE following a suicide bombing in Karachi. In 2008, Australia's tour of Pakistan was canceled over security concerns in the wake of the country's general election. The series was delayed to 2009 and played in the UAE.

In 2009, a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore halted not only Australian tours to Pakistan, but all international tours. The Australian and Pakistani boards then moved to play two Tests in England in 2010 in a series dubbed 'The Spirit of Cricket Series'. On that English tour, current veterans Tim Paine and Steve Smith both made their debuts together at Lord's.

Since then, Australia have toured the UAE twice for matches against Pakistan in 2014 and 2018.

Pakistan v Australia: 2nd Test - Day Four
Pakistan v Australia: 2nd Test - Day Four

The UAE was seemingly a temporary fix. The then Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan told AAP in 2019 it wasn’t sustainable for his organization to continue hosting cricket in the UAE.

Zimbabwe were the first full member nation to return to Pakistan in 2015. That was followed by successful tours by South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and Sri Lanka.

Australian batter Usman Khawaja said staging games in Pakistan should be a "big objective" for Australia.

"It's very easy for players and organisations to say no to Pakistan, because it's Pakistan. They keep proving time and time again through their tournaments that they're a safe place to play cricket. I think there's no reason why we shouldn't go back," he said.

Will the tour to Pakistan go ahead?

Cricket Australia (CA) intends to proceed with the series, but will conduct customary safety procedures first. Reports dating back to September suggest the fate of the series is still undecided. Additionally, there is still no official fixture on offer to substantiate CA's perceived commitment.

Fresh doubts over the tour recently surfaced following New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the England Cricket Board (ECB) canceling their tours to Pakistan.

West Indies legend Michael Holding has slammed the "western arrogance" of the England and Wales Cricket Board regarding their decision to pull out of a planned tour of Pakistan.#9WWOS

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja says an 'Asia versus the west' mentality is brewing in the wake of these cancelations. Ramiz Raja labeled Pakistan's security agencies "the best in the field".

Australia should help put an end to that perception through its bilateral relations. After all, cricket has done so much to rescind cultural boundaries over the years.

CA is well-intended in seeking to protect the safety and well-being of all parties involved. But threats and concerns over security show no signs of abating in this world, and new strategies will be required to overcome these obstacles. The manner in which these tours have been canceled is aggressively unilateral.

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja hit out at cricket's "western bloc", as he copes with the second cancellation of a home series in a matter of days

CA's behavior has differed in the past when playing in England. The 2005 Australian tour of England will be remembered as one of the best tours ever. But four separate terrorist attacks - The London Bombings - which killed 52 people, was not enough to halt the tour.

British newspapers also reported that a terror plot had been hatched to kill all players in the 2005 Ashes.

During the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, CA 'monitored the situation' as fatal terrorist attacks struck London Bridge. Another attack occurred in close proximity to The Oval - where Australia were training in the lead up to their match. All matches proceeded as scheduled.

England v Australia - ICC Champions Trophy
England v Australia - ICC Champions Trophy

Former Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis has pleaded with Australia not to be persuaded by the NZC or the ECB. He assured the Australians by saying "Pakistan will look after you".

Ramiz Raja also called for Australia to fulfill its commitment to the game.

“I just hope we’re able to convince Australia that Pakistan is safe. If it’s safe for the Australians in the PSL [Pakistan Super League], why can’t it be safe for the entire Australian cricket team?," he said.

A thorough change of approach will be required if officials in charge believe touring certain countries is intrinsically dangerous. CA have the opportunity to help normalize Pakistan's presence in world cricket by touring there in 2022.

Edited by Diptanil Roy


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