Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja lamented the recent abandonment of cricket tours to Pakistan, arguing it reflects double standards and how “money talks”.

New Zealand last week fled Rawalpindi on the day their men’s ODI series was due to start, citing an escalated security threat.

England then pulled the pin on men’s and women’s tours in October, although British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner said concerns about players safety was not part of that decision.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), having worked tirelessly in recent years to convince players and national boards it is safe to return, is fearful its homeland will return to being a no-go zone.

Cricket Australia will soon have to reach its own decision, with Tim Paine’s team slated to tour Pakistan after this summer’s Ashes.

Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan then emigrated with his family to Sydney at age five, says the past week has been “extremely disappointing” in a cricketing sense.

“I feel it’s very easy for players and organisations to say no to Pakistan, because it’s Pakistan,” Khawaja said in Brisbane. “I think the same thing would apply too, if it were Bangladesh. But nobody would say no to India, if they’re in the same situation.

“Money talks, we all know that, and that’s probably a big part of it. They keep proving time and time again through their tournaments that they’re a safe place to play cricket. I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go back.”

Khawaja added staging games in Pakistan should be a “big objective” for the global cricket community.

The PCB has been forced to shift the vast majority of its home matches to the UAE since a 2009 armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore. Test skipper Paine and national selector George Bailey played in Pakistan during a T20 exhibition series in 2017.

Khawaja took part in this year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL), although his section of the T20 tournament was held in the UAE because of a rise in Pakistan’s Covid-19 cases.

Khawaja would have happily travelled to Pakistan, noting close friend Ben Cutting has felt “really safe” while playing in the country during recent years.

“There’s a lot of security. Heavy, heavy security,” he said. “I’ve heard nothing but reports about people feeling safe. Even talking to the guys during the PSL about what it’s like…they would say the same thing to me ‘like 10 years ago, maybe not, but now 100 percent’.”

Queensland captain Khawaja will have a chance to build his case for a Test recall next week, when his side hosts Tasmania in Sheffield Shield and one-day matches.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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