Pakistan takes step forward but remains off-limits for Australian cricket teams

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland says Pakistan still remains off-limits for touring Australian teams despite a successful start to a trio of World XI T20 matches being played in Lahore.

A number of Australians, including Ben Cutting, Tim Paine and George Bailey, are involved in the matches which have been seen as a major breakthrough for the Pakistan Cricket Board as it attempts to start hosting meaningful games again.

Faf du Plessis captains the World XI side, which also features other high-profile South Africans Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir.

Since 2009 when terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team bus, only Zimbabwe (May 2015) have toured the cricket-mad nation. Australian haven't set foot on Pakistan soil since a three-Test, three-ODI series in 1998-99.

Australia aren't due to play Pakistan again for 18 months. They toured Australia last summer, making history by playing the first pink ball Test at the Gabba.

Sutherland said they expected to play in the UAE next time the sides met but said he would love nothing more than to see Pakistan put themselves in a position where they could confidently host top-level international sides.

"I've got mixed feelings about this one. Certainly, from Pakistan's perspective, I really do hope they can get to a situation where they can host international cricket again on a more regular basis," Sutherland said.

"At the same time, we'll take an appropriately conservative approach on security. We're not going to compromise on the safety and security of our employees.

"We only consider security issues in a country when we're due to tour there. And when that country advises us of the preferred place to host us. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

"I don't have any indications they are looking to play matches against us in Pakistan. I'm expecting they will be in the UAE."

Sutherland was on the Gold Coast on Thursday, a region he hopes can host short forms of the game. CA has been in discussions to stage some matches at Metricon Stadium, home of the Gold Coast Suns and a main venue of the Commonwealth Games.

"We're in discussions with the relevant parties about the possibility of making use of the stadium and bringing top-level cricket to the Gold Coast, perhaps Big Bash League matches, maybe taking it so far as international one-day or T20 matches. We're keen to explore that," he said.

"Right from the outset, the stadium was designed to accommodate cricket. There's a tub in the middle for a turf wicket. It's all easily used. All the planning is there. It's just a matter of getting the timing right. We're keen to do it."

This story Pakistan takes step forward but remains off-limits for Australian cricket teams first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.