Sydney:Australian captain Ricky Ponting admitted on Friday that his team is haunted by security fears in travelling to Pakistan to defend their Champions Trophy in September.
The skipper added his doubts to the growing concerns his team and players worldwide have in touring Pakistan in the holy month of Ramadan in September which is also the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America.
"You don't have to be Einstein to figure there will be some concern among our team. It's not just because we're Australian cricketers. Anyone travelling to Pakistan would have some sort of concern," Ponting was quoted as saying in The Australian Friday.
Several leading Australian cricketers have reportedly said they would stand down from the most prestigious limited-overs tournament of the year rather than tour a nation they deem to be volatile and unsafe.
Australia called off its March-April Test and one-day tour and players are concerned about playing in the dangerously unsettled country so soon.
"We'll see what eventuates in coming weeks. It would be great for the game and great for Pakistan if the tournament went ahead," he said.
Ponting's concerns have been reflected much more strongly from player associations in Australia, New Zealand and England, and the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA).
FICA chief executive Tim May told The Australian on Monday that "absolutely nothing" had changed in Pakistan since Australia abandoned its tour three months ago.
Ponting said no player would be forced to tour if the team receives the all-clear to compete in the Champions Trophy.
"We all know you're expected to go contractually if selected on the tour, but it will come down to the individual and what they feel at the time," Ponting said.
"Hopefully, by that stage we'll have a lot more informed opinion. There hasn't been any talk about it at the moment, but you only have to turn the clock back a few months to understand there was some concerns then.
"It is going to be up to people in higher places than us to decide if it is any better than it was three or four months ago."
However, the captain said the decision on title-holder Australia's participation in the elite eight-team tournament would rest with Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association.
Australian security consultant Reg Dickson will head to the strife-torn country to assess the security situation.
Dickason is the person who strongly recommended that Australia not tour Pakistan three months ago
"We'll know a lot more about it then but for us at the moment it's business as usual," said Ponting, who is preparing for today's Twenty20 match against the West Indies in Barbados and then the five-match one-day series.