Incredibly safe in Pakistan despite Agar threat

Incredibly safe in Pakistan despite Agar threat

Australia batsman Steve Smith said on Tuesday the players felt “incredibly safe” on their first tour of Pakistan in nearly 25 years, despite spinner Ashton Agar receiving a death threat via social media just days before the start of the first test.

Agar was warned against travelling to Pakistan, though the threat was dismissed following an investigation by the boards of Pakistan and Australia and government security agencies.

Cricket Australia said extensive security plans were in place for such social media activity and that the threat was “not considered a risk”.

Smith said the team trusted the security arrangements in place.

“We’re aware of social media and the unfortunate events that can occur on platforms,” he told reporters ahead of the first test, which starts on Friday in Rawalpindi.

“We’ve got a lot of people working here with us, we trust our security and we’re feeling incredibly safe in Pakistan.”

Top teams have largely shunned Pakistan since an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.

International sides have recently started touring Pakistan again but in September New Zealand returned home after abruptly abandoning a tour minutes before the opening game in Rawalpindi following a government security alert. Read full story

England followed suit three days later, withdrawing their men’s and women’s teams from a tour in October citing the “mental and physical well-being” of players. Read full story

Smith said that he was relishing the challenge of playing in Pakistan.

“It’s great to be back here and playing cricket,” he said.

“It’s the first time a lot of us have been here and we’re excited. We know how passionate Pakistanis are about cricket.”

Smith sustained a concussion in a match against Sri Lanka in Sydney last month, slamming his head to the ground after falling over the boundary rope but the 32-year-old said he had progressed well.

“It’s the first session back for me facing fast bowling. I’m recovering from the concussion and I’ve faced some side-arm and spinners,” Smith said.

“The head has progressed really well the last few days. I’m feeling in a good space, done a lot of stuff where I’ve got my heart rate up to a good amount and brought it down … all part of the protocols of getting back to playing.”

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