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Easy to say no to Pakistan, says Australia’s Usman Khawaja

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MELBOURNE: Pakistan-born Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja says “money talks” and no team would say no to touring India but it is “easy for players and organisations” to turn down assignments in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

England followed New Zealand in pulling out of Pakistan tour, citing security concerns, dealing a massive blow to the country’s efforts to bring back international cricket.

“I feel it’s very easy for players and organisations to say no to Pakistan, because it’s Pakistan. 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,” Khawaja was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press.

“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,” said the cricketer who moved to Australian from Pakistan with his family at the age of five.

Khawaja said he would happily travel to Pakistan to play. Australia are scheduled to tour Pakistan next year.

“There’s a lot of security. Heavy, heavy security. 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’.”

Khawaja’s comments come after former Pakistan bowling coach Waqar Younis urged Australia to travel to Pakistan, claiming his country is the ‘safest place in the world’.

“I live in Sydney, my family is in Sydney — it’s the safest place in the world and I can guarantee you this place is nothing less than that,” Waqar, who recently stepped down from his post, told The Age. “Come visit us, we will make sure we will look after you. Our security is one of the best in the world. We’ll make sure nothing of that sort will occur. When a team comes it is a different ball game. They make sure the hospitality; the security is right up there.”

Following the decision taken by New Zealand and England, Cricket Australia had said it was monitoring the situation and would “talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known” ahead of its scheduled tour early next year.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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