Pakistan coach offers advice to Australia

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, has offered to speak to Australia's players to ease any concerns they have about their upcoming tour of Pakistan. Lawson says he has never felt unsafe in Pakistan and he sees no reason why the political unrest following the assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto would affect the cricket.

"In all the time I have been there I have had zero concern for my safety - zero,"

Lawson told the Daily Telegraph.

"You just go about your job, do what you do.

"Prima facie you think [the unrest] is not going to affect cricket. It happens around the country a fair bit, but it doesn't happen at sporting venues. I don't walk around Lahore looking over my shoulder, it's a normal life."

Andrew Symonds has already expressed his concerns about visiting Pakistan if Cricket Australia decides the March Test tour is safe and some other players are believed to have reservations. Lawson is in Australia on leave for the next fortnight and he would be happy to answer questions from the players before he heads back to Pakistan.

"It's uninformed comment,"

Lawson said of Australia's players airing their views.

"You don't read the front page of a newspaper and make a decision. If Cricket Australia want to get my opinion - and it would only be an opinion - I have a unique position so I probably have some insight they don't have. They can seek me out if they want to."

Cricket Australia had been planning to send a security delegation to assess the situation in February, about six weeks ahead of the three-Test tour. However, with Pakistan's election now postponed by more than a month, until February 18, the time-frame for a decision from Cricket Australia has become considerably tighter.

If the trip does not go ahead several of Australia's top players might enjoy a financial bonus as the unexpected gap in their schedule would allow them to take part in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Neil Maxwell, the player agent and the IPL's Australian-based contact, confirmed that was the case but said the players could only wait for Cricket Australia's decision.

"A lot realise this is pretty heavy stuff going on over there [in Pakistan],"

Maxwell said.

"They would probably know what they would prefer to do [scrap the tour] but they have to wait for Cricket Australia to make that call."

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Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?