January 1, 2008
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Ricky Ponting would prefer the Pakistan series scheduled for March to be held at a neutral venue if it is cancelled due to safety concerns. Pakistan's already unstable political situation has worsened in the aftermath of the death of Benazir Bhutto, the opposition leader, and some of the players have expressed concerns about touring.
While acknowledging Pakistan would not want to move the three Tests away from home, which it did in 2002-03 when the series was staged in Sharjah and Sri Lanka, Ponting was keen for it to go ahead. "It's been made clear that they wouldn't like to [play at a neutral venue]," Ponting said in Sydney. "I'd like to be playing cricket at that stage."
Australia has not toured Pakistan since the series of Mark Taylor's 334 in 1998-99, but the Pakistan Cricket Board also has the option to defer the contest if reports from the ICC and Cricket Australia conclude the situation is unsafe. "We haven't played a lot of Test cricket against Pakistan in the last few years," Ponting said. "I'd rather be playing cricket than not be playing."
Andrew Symonds and Brett Lee have spoken about the problems in Pakistan and Ponting said the events surrounding Bhutto's death had created concerns. "But we're always going to be guided by experts in Australia and Pakistan to see how the situation is," he said. "It's out of our control." Cricket Australia will send a security delegation to Pakistan in February before a decision is made.