DateLine: 21st February 2008
Andrew Symonds appeared to backtrack slightly on his threat to boycott an Australian tour of Pakistan as it emerged here Thursday that the all-rounder would be in breach of his national contract if he refused to tour.
Cricket Australia (CA) is waiting on further security assessments before committing to the scheduled tour next month, but Australian captain Ricky Ponting and CA spokesman Peter Young both warned that Symonds was contractually obliged to join the squad if the tour was given the all-clear.
"Whether it's unfair or not, we've all signed off on it (the contract)," Ponting said here Thursday.
"There will be lots of safety and security measures put in place and there will be all sorts of security checks done throughout Pakistan over the next few weeks to let us know as a player group whether it is actually safe to tour or not.
"If it is seen to be safe and you don't go, then I think that's where the breach of your contract would be."
Symonds has been an outspoken critic of the tour going ahead and said on Wednesday that he would not be prepared to tour Pakistan.
However, he wasn't quite as adamant 24 hours later.
"The door's ajar, but you know where I stand on it," he said.
"At the time that (decision) happens I'll have to make a decision that I'll have to stand by.
"Safety is at a premium, that's all it is really.
"Make as big or little a deal out of it as you like, but to me that's the problem we're faced with, otherwise I'd be saying I'll go there and play cricket."
CA spokesman Young echoed Ponting's assessment.
"The situation with the 25 players who have signed CA contracts is that they have signed a contract which binds them to play cricket as and when CA schedules cricket," Young said.
"To not play cricket as and when CA determines would put a player into a breach of contract situation."
The latest development came a day after Symonds was snapped up by the Indian Premier League franchise.
The revised Pakistan tour is currently scheduled to start in late March and run for about four weeks, overlapping with the April 18 start of the IPL tournament.
(Article: Copyright © 2008 AFP)