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Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds should not be punished if he decides to skip the tour of Pakistan, according to players' union boss Paul Marsh.

Symonds has spoken of his concern at going to a country currently experiencing civil unrest following the assassination of former primer minister Benazir Bhutto.

A Cricket Australia security team is due to visit the region in February but, even if the tour does go ahead, Symonds will still be able to opt out, said Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association.

Marsh believes each player is legally entitled to make an individual decision about touring Pakistan without breaching his contract.

"We want to reach a collective decision but the players obviously have that ultimate right," he said.

"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.

"The players have the right to make a decision.

"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?"

Symonds expressed his fears over the weekend about going to Pakistan with the

tour provisionally pencilled in for March.

"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.

"I'll be closely monitoring things and learning more about how their country is being run from the political side of things.

"You personally choose whether you want to play for Australia. If you're selected, you can choose to decline the offer of going on a tour or playing a game."

Australia 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 issues.
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