New Zealand was warned of a “specific, credible threat” against its team, the country’s cricket board said yesterday, elaborating on the rationale for abruptly abandoning the tour of Pakistan as the squad reached Dubai.
New Zealand had pulled out of the limited-overs tour on the day of the opening fixture in Rawalpindi on Friday citing a New Zealand government security alert.
“What I can say is that we were advised this was a specific and credible threat against the team,” New Zealand cricket (NZC) chief executive David White said in a statement.
“Everything changed on Friday. The advice changed, the threat level changed and, as a consequence, we took the only responsible course of action possible. Unfortunately, given the advice we’d received, there was no way we could stay in the country.”
New Zealand had been visiting Pakistan for the first time in 18 years and also had been due to play five Twenty20 matches in Lahore.
Top teams have largely shunned Pakistan following an attack by Islamist militants on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians. The players left Islamabad by a chartered flight on Saturday and reached Dubai where the 34-strong contingent are undergoing 24-hour period of self-isolation, the NZC said in a statement.
Twenty four of them will return home next week, while the rest would join New Zealand’s Twenty20 World Cup squad for the showpiece tournament scheduled in the United Arab Emirates and Oman from Oct 17. While the general tenor of the threat was immediately shared with the PCB, White said specific details could not, and will not, be disclosed.
Stung by the withdrawal and kept in dark about the exact nature of the threat, the Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) has mailed NZC conveying its frustration, and is to take up the matter with the governing International Cricket Council.
“It sets a very very dangerous precedent when countries are unilaterally making decisions that potentially could have long-term consequences for countries,” PCB chief executive Wasim Khan told a virtual news conference yesterday. Khan ruled out the prospect of Pakistan refusing to play New Zealand in this year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
“We’ve had a good relationship with New Zealand in the past. Has it created potential tensions right now? I say absolutely. “The way it was done I think was disrespectful in many ways,” Khan added. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said NZC “made the right decision” to pull out of the tour. “You will understand why we are not in a position to give further information as to the nature of the intelligence, other than to say, it was a direct threat, and it was a credible threat,” she told reporters on Sunday. White also addressed a report on news website www.stuff.co.nz that said a member of the team had received death threats before embarking on the tour of Pakistan. He said the email threats were “forwarded to our security provider”, and “were proved to be hoax and not credible”.
Pakistan rule out New Zealand World Cup boycott despite abandoned tour
Pakistan will not boycott next month’s Twenty20 World Cup match against New Zealand after the Black Caps abruptly abandoned their tour over security fears, the country’s cricket board said yesterday.
The cancellation is a massive setback for Pakistan, which has been trying to revive tours by foreign sides after home internationals were suspended in the aftermath of a 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team. New Zealand have refused to give details of the security threat that forced them to cancel their tour on Friday just as the first one-day international was due to begin in Rawalpindi. The decision infuriated the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and sparked calls for a boycott of the New Zealand team. But PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said no such action is on the cards. “Right now there is no issue of us not playing NZ,” Khan said at a Zoom press conference yesterday. “We have a duty to the fans and we have to fulfil that.”
He also ruled out players wearing black armbands in protest.
“I think we just need to be very careful in terms of the perspective,” he said. “We don’t want to take that route showing any sort of political gesturing and posturing and any sort of visible protest.”
Pakistan and New Zealand are due to meet in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sharjah on October 26.
Khan said the abandonment had created “political tensions” in the PCB’s relationship with New Zealand Cricket “because the way it was done was disrespectful.”
The three-ODI and five-T20 series would have been the Black Caps’ first games in Pakistan in 18 years and Khan said the pull-out has exposed the inequalities in world cricket. “We have done everything for other countries, our players have sacrificed 14 days of quarantine in New Zealand and went to New Zealand after an attack on the mosque,” said Khan in reference to the March 2019 attack in Christchurch. “It’s easy to walk out of countries like Pakistan without any reason, without any dialogue and that has to stop,” Khan said.
Attempts to convince Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to visit for a replacement series have also fallen through due to logistical hurdles, Khan said. England and Australia are both currently scheduled to play in Pakistan later this year. (AFP)
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