Former Australia allrounder Watson also played a key role in Australia’s eventual trip
Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said Australia’s pre-tour reconnaissance trip during West Indies’ visit in December was “the pivotal moment” that set the wheels in motion for Australia’s first visit of Pakistan since 1998. Calling the hesitation surrounding the visit to Pakistan “a fear or anxiety of the unknown”, Hockley said the security arrangements had given everyone great confidence.
An hour out from the first ball, Hockley, Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Faisal Hasnain, ICC chairman Geoff Allardice and Australian Cricketers’ Association CEO Todd Greenberg held a joint press conference, reaffirming their support for Australia’s tour.
Faisal Hasnain called it a “delight and a privilege” to welcome Australia, saying Hockley, Allardice and Greenberg being present demonstrated their support for the tour. “I, and the people of Pakistan also welcome Pat Cummins and the entire Australian squad to Pakistan,” he said. “And I thank them for their individual decisions to tour Pakistan. There are many, many people on both sides that have worked tirelessly, over many, many months to make this tour a reality. This tour also sends out a strong and positive message to the entire world. And I’m confident that when the Australian team returns home, they will leave with fond memories.”
“Watson provided great context, clarity and confidence for that tour and spoke to a number of the players. And we’ve had individual conversations with not just players, but their families, and we’ve taken them on a long journey with lots of information. The more information you can share the better informed they are, the better decisions they can make. Which is why that anxiety has turned to excitement because they are genuinely excited to be here. There’s a generation of Australian cricketers that have missed the opportunity to play Test cricket in Pakistan.
“I spoke to Steve Waugh only a couple of days ago who, when he last played on this ground, scored a hundred. Now there’s a lot of Australian cricketers who have not had the opportunity since then, and our modern-day players you’ll see today now get that chance. Cameron Green wasn’t born the last time we played a Test match here that’s not lost on this playing group, the great privilege that it is to play Test cricket here in Pakistan.”
Allardice paid tribute to both cricket boards for working out a way to make sure the series took place in Pakistan. “I’m looking forward to the contest between the two teams. I have seen over the last four or five years the efforts that the PCB and the various authorities in Pakistan have gone to bring cricket back to the fans in Pakistan. And this is yet another step in that journey. And well done to both PCB and to Cricket Australia for making this happen. I think when you think about the almost the generation of Australian players who haven’t had the opportunity to experience Test cricket in Pakistan, you know, I think the excitement among the players today is very, very telling.”