Australian cricket players nervous about Pakistan tour
Australian cricketers are on edge barely a month before their first tour of Pakistan in 24 years amid an uptick in terror attacks in the Asian nation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.
"We're all toey about it," a source close to the team told the newspaper, using an informal Australian term for being anxious or worried.
Australia are scheduled to play three tests, three one-day internationals and one Twenty20 match in Pakistan starting on March 3.
Selector George Bailey told reporters on Wednesday that security arrangements would be "very, very robust and very, very thorough".
"I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we'll announce the squad post that, but we're reasonably well down the track," he added.
Australia has not toured Pakistan since 1998 due to security concerns, instead playing its away matches in the United Arab Emirates.
Though some international touring sides have returned to Pakistan in recent years, New Zealand abruptly halted a tour there in September citing security issues and England shortly afterwards cancelled a planned tour.
An increase in attacks since the Taliban regained control of neighbouring Afghanistan in August has not helped to bolster confidence either.
Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said terrorist incidents had increased by more than a third since the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, local media reported.
A bomb blast ripped through a crowded market in eastern Pakistan on Thursday, killing three people and wounding over 20, police said.
A newly formed separatist group based in southwestern Balochistan province claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message sent to a Reuters reporter.