Sydney: Former Australia cricketer Geoff Lawson believes that the senior mens team tour to Pakistan in March is very important in terms of going there and playing irrespective of the result. He added that the Australian cricketers will be given a great reception if they tour Pakistan.

The tour, featuring three Tests, as many ODIs and a T20I, is slated to start from March 3, marking Australia’s first visit to Pakistan after 24 years.

“Boxing Day at the MCG or the Adelaide Oval under lights, it’s about the broad and glorious differences that broach cultures, religions and languages. Whether Australia win or lose is irrelevant; the important bit is turning up and playing, putting your body where your mouth is and demonstrating that you are truly a member of the cricket fraternity – and proving Michael Holding wrong,” wrote Lawson in his column for The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday.

“I can picture 30,000 fans filling the terraces at Gaddafi Stadium every day of the Test match, munching on their pakoras and supping on sugarcane juice. It is one of the great stadiums in the cricket world. They will be raucous and respectful, supporting the home-town heroes and admiring the Australian stars,” added Lawson, a former Pakistan head coach.

Lawson pointed out how Australia didn’t find time to tour overseas for Tests since 2019, especially against Pakistan since 1998. “The Australians have ridden out the vast majority of the Covid-19 disruption by playing at home. They haven’t played a Test overseas since the Ashes in 2019.”

“They haven’t played in Pakistan since 1998, the tour on which Mark Taylor made 334 at Peshawar. They cancelled a tour at late notice in 2008 and the ICC moved the Champions Trophy from Pakistan. Pakistan is a major Test-playing nation and Australia haven’t found time to visit in 24 years. It’s not good enough.”

The 64-year-old compared Pakistan to its neighbours India, saying that the latter had tons of home season matches while the former didn’t get a single home match in the same period. “The Pakistani people have a penchant for cricket, maybe even more so than their eastern neighbours, which is quite a statement that in no way diminishes the Indian passion for the game.”

“The two countries were once one, and have much in common, but Indian fans have had a buffet of cricket forever, while Pakistan has been starved for almost 14 years. No team has deemed it too dangerous to tour India; it has taken Covid-19 to divert the IPL to Dubai, whereas Pakistan have made the Emirates their home.”

Lawson signed off by saying that if Australia tour Pakistan, they will be honoured. “I had the wonderful chance to live in Lahore for almost two years when I was Pakistan coach and found the people unfailingly hospitable, even when we lost a game or two. This Australian team will be feted.”