Test skipper Tim Paine admits some players may feel uncomfortable about travelling to Pakistan, with Cricket Australia to form a firmer view of the planned tour after officials visit in December.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced dates and venues for three Tests against Paine’s side in March plus four white-ball matches.
If the trip proceeds it will mark Australia’s first cricket tour of Pakistan since 1998.
Pakistan has hosted the majority of its cricket in the UAE since the 2009 armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.
However, that trend has slowly but surely changed since Paine was among a World XI to play an exhibition series in Pakistan during 2017.
Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley told AAP the tour is subject to security plans being ticked off and that “safety and wellbeing of players and staff” remains the organisation’s top priority.
“But certainly, there is really strong intent to want to go,” Hockley said.
Officials from CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association are set to travel to Pakistan in December, inspecting facilities and security arrangements.
It’s understood the pre-tour visit will overlap with a men’s limited-overs series between West Indies and Pakistan in Karachi, offering an ideal chance to kick tyres in the city set to host the first Australia-Pakistan Test.
Paine is upbeat Australia won’t follow the lead of New Zealand and England, who recently pulled out of tours of Pakistan.
“It’s really exciting … once that (security) is ticked off, I think everyone will be looking forward to getting back over there,” Paine told SEN.
“There’ll be some guys who will be happy to take the experts’ advice and others will want to know a bit more.
“There might be some people who aren’t comfortable going regardless.
“That’s happened before with tours … same as some of the stuff going on with COVID, some guys have pulled out of other tours.
“It comes down to the individual.”
Glenn Maxwell is one Australian unlikely to be part of the tour, only because the trip will clash with his rescheduled wedding.
Paine, widely expected to retire after this summer, reiterated he is looking no further ahead than the Ashes.
Paine, George Bailey and Ben Cutting were Australia’s representatives in a World XI that played three games in Lahore, while Shane Watson is among the Australians to have played franchise cricket in Pakistan.
Paine recalled the “extraordinary” presidential level of security as being comforting yet unnerving.
“The security that we had on that tour was unlike anything that I’ve ever seen in my life,” the wicketkeeper said.
“Helicopters overhead, roads shut down five kilometres around us, checkpoints like every kilometre.”
Usman Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan then emigrated with his family to Sydney at age five, described Monday’s announcement as “amazing”.
“It’s not just great for Pakistan, it’s great for world cricket,” Khawaja said.
“Hopefully they get it sorted.
“Talking to all the guys who did go there (in recent years), they felt it’s safe.”