Security remain a concern as international cricketers continue to be sceptical about touring Pakistan
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell said that he would be willing to tour Pakistan if required but added that he would be a little scared as well with regards to security concerns, ESPNCricinfo reports. The 27-year-old said that the feeling has been developed based on various media reports about the tense situation in the Asian country which is a regular witness to terrorist attacks.
Back in 2009, 12 gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team while they were on their way to the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, which have led to major cricketing nations refusing to tour Pakistan and instead play their matches at neutral venues in the UAE. Close to six years down the line, cricketers are still worried about the situation as Russell became the latest high-profile international cricketer to have his say on the matter.
"Based on what I have heard and stuff you know, I mean, I am going to be scared obviously," Russell told ESPNcricinfo when asked if he would play in Pakistan. "But, for some reason, I would go to Pakistan. But listen, I am going to be scared. That's the thing."
Russell went to equate touring Pakistan to visiting war-torn Iraq as he felt both countries have their better qualities shrouded due to such terror activities.
"It is like me going to Iraq based on what I have heard about Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Iraq. You are going to have nice places in Pakistan. I've seen pictures, beautiful places, beautiful people. But it is [about] what is surrounding [them]," Russel said.
The West Indian’s comments might have been prompted by a statement from PSL chairman Najam Sethi, who claimed that a few matches in the next edition of the PSL could be staged in Pakistan. Russell, who plays for Islamabad United, who kept alive their chances in the tournament with a crushing nine-wicket victory over Karachi Kings on Saturday, said that he was willing to tour saying that the situation was not much better off in his hometown either.
"A lot of crime going on in Jamaica. I'm from Jamaica. I'm going to tell, Jamaica is the most beautiful place in the world. You are going to say, "No, but, they are shooting people." I will say, no, no. Don't worry. So it is going to be similar [about going to Pakistan]. So if I have to go, I'll go. But if I don't have to, I don't mind."
Watson and Sammy have their say on the issue
On the eve of the PSL, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson also gave his views on the matter.
"I had a really good time while playing in Pakistan in 2005 during the Australia A team tour," Watson had said. "However, security is the most important thing and if players around the world are declared to be very safe I will be happy to play there.
"I love playing cricket wherever it is around the world. If security situation continues to get better there, it will be nice and Pakistan hadn't had home team advantage for a long time now because of security concerns and hopefully it works out their way soon."
West Indies T20 skipper Darren Sammy also seemed to echo Watson’s thoughts and expressed hope that the conditions would become conducive enough for cricket to return to the Asian powerhouse.
"It is the government and the cricket body to decide, but what I could tell you is that the fans of Pakistan cricket have been missing some good international cricket,” Sammy said.
"We as cricketers get to play in front of our home fans and that is something Pakistan have not had an opportunity [to experience], to play in front of their own people for a while. It is sad, but hopefully things could get resolved and every territory could get a chance of playing cricket before their own crowd."