Melbourne, June 24: PCB’s chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi has said that Australian cricketers should not boycott the forthcoming Champions Trophy to be played in Pakistan from September 11-28, as it would not only tarnish the tournament, but also further alienate Aussie cricketers from the Pakistan public.
Naghmi’s comments came in the backdrop of several players, most notably Andrew Symonds, showing reluctance in touring Pakistan even if the series was cleared by Cricket Australia (CA) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Cricketers and players' unions from England and NZ have also stated safety fears, creating the possibility that the tournament could be decimated by player boycotts.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said on Saturday that there had been no movement on the issue whether to tour Pakistan or not.
The PCB official claimed that in Pakistan it was believed that the Australians had “overblown” security concerns in the country.
Local supporters were “very disappointed” that Australia had not played in Pakistan for more than a decade, and implored Cricket Australia and the players to participate in the Trophy in September, The Age quoted Naghmi as saying.
Naghmi was a leading figure in discussions with Cricket Australia that resulted in Australia's scheduled Test and one-day tour of Pakistan this year being postponed to 2009-10.
He further said: “They would be hurting their own team. They have to weigh up their loyalty to their team, or pull (out) on account of a security concern that I can assure you is unfounded. I don't think ‘sports terrorism’ is on the list. The fans are very disappointed that Australia has not been here for 10 years now — especially when England, South Africa and New Zealand have toured — and there is a feeling among them that a lot of the security concerns have been blown out of proportion. That’s not to say there is hostility towards them, just disappointment and a little frustration.” (ANI)