Marsh backs Symond's stand on Pak tour

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Sydney, Dec 31 (UNI) Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds should not be punished if he decides to skip the tour of Pakistan early next year, Australian Cricketers' Association Chief Executive Paul Marsh said.

''If Cricket Australia decided the tour should proceed, the players will obviously then be faced with the decision, do we go or do we individually or collectively decide not to go?''Marsh said.

''We want to reach a collective decision but the players obviously have that ultimate right,'' he said adding each player is legally entitled to make an individual decision about touring Pakistan without breaching his contract.

''We would rather it's a one-in, all-in either way, but if a player comes to us and says that if the tour was to proceed they don't want to go, then we would support that and we believe the players are entitled to do that.'' A Cricket Australia security team is due to visit Pakistan in February but, even if the tour does go ahead, Symonds will still be able to opt out, said Marsh.

Symonds has spoken of his concern over the weekend about going to a country currently experiencing civil unrest following the assassination of former Primer Minister Benazir Bhutto.

''I'm not interested in going into a situation that's dangerous, where people are getting killed and hurt. There's no point in that,'' said Symonds.

''At the end of the day, it's a game of cricket. I take my cricket very seriously and I love playing for Australia but I'm not going to put myself in a situation where I can be harmed,'' he added.

Australia are due to visit Pakistan next year with the tour provisionally scheduled in March. They have not played a Test in Pakistan since 1998 with their three-Test tour in 2002 moved to Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates because of security reasons.

UNI

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