Ponting says Australians still nervous about Pakistan
Sunday, 22 June 2008

REUTERS, SYDNEY - Australia's cricketers were still apprehensive about competing in Pakistan for the Champions Trophy in September, captain Ricky Ponting said.

Australia postponed their tour of Pakistan earlier this year after a spate of suicide bombings following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in December.

Pakistan is scheduled to host the 15-match Champions Trophy, which is considered the second most important one-day tournament behind the World Cup. Australia won the last tournament in India in 2006.

"We don't know if we're going, and if we do go, we don't know if individuals are going to pull out," Ponting, who is still on tour in the West Indies, was quoted as saying in Friday's Sydney Morning Herald.

"But what we know right now is, yes, there is some apprehension amongst some of the players and that was stated last summer. I don't think that would have changed until now.

"It might change in the coming weeks. If we get some good news from the security reports over there, then the individual's mindset might change a little bit."

Ponting added the team would be guided by advice from Cricket Australia's own security staff, the Australian Cricketers' Association and the Australian government.

"We understand there has been a bit of trouble over there in the last few weeks, but we're always guided by the experts," Ponting said.

"To Cricket Australia and the players' association's credit, I think they've handled the last couple of tours there very well. Obviously, the government's involvement last time probably helped us all out."

He also said his team were not alone in expressing apprehension in touring Pakistan, with other teams also concerned about safety during the 18-day tournament, which is being staged in just three cities - Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi.

"Let's not forget that we probably won't be the only ones in that situation," he added.

"I'm sure some of the England players will have some concerns, I'm sure a lot of the New Zealand players who have been confronted with this stuff before, in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, will have some pretty serous concerns.

"It just won't be Australian players. There will be a few other teams who will be thinking long and hard if the tour does go ahead there."

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