New Zealand men abandon Pakistan tour after ‘government security alert’


Henry Nichols and Tom Latham
New Zealander Henry Nichols and Tom Latham during a training session in Rawalpindi on Thursday

The New Zealand men’s team has abandoned its Pakistan tour after a “security alert” from the New Zealand government.

The Black Caps were due to play Pakistan in their first of three one-day internationals in Rawalpindi on Friday before moving to Lahore for five Twenty20 Series matches.

England’s men’s and women’s teams are due to play in Rawalpindi next month and the England and Wales Cricket Board said it would decide “within the next 24-48 hours” whether matches would take place.

The men’s and women’s internationals are scheduled to play two-headed T20 internationals on October 13 and 14 before the women’s team plays three internationals in the open matches on October 17, 19 and 21.

New Zealand’s decision to abandon their tour followed an “escalation in the New Zealand government’s threat levels to Pakistan”.

The New Zealand Cricket (NZC) newspaper said it would not comment on details of the security threat as plans are in place for the team to return home.

“I understand this would be a blow to PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board), who have been a fantastic host, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,” said NZC CEO David White.

In December 2019, Pakistan played a test at home For the first time since the Sri Lanka team bus was attacked in 2009.

With international teams choosing not to tour due to security concerns, Pakistan has played most of its “home” matches since 2009 in the United Arab Emirates, often in front of small crowds.

Pakistan reassured New Zealand Cricket of ‘unsecured security arrangements’

In a statement, the office said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan – the former Pakistan cricket captain – spoke to his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and told her there was “no security threat of any kind to the visiting team”.

“Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us that they had been alerted to a security alert and they unilaterally decided to postpone the series,” the statement said.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Government of Pakistan made deceptive security arrangements for all the visiting teams. We confirmed that to New Zealand Cricket.

“The Pakistani Prime Minister personally spoke to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and told her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that there is no security threat of any kind to the visiting team.

“Security officials with the New Zealand team are satisfied with the security arrangements made by the Pakistani government throughout their stay here.

“PCB is ready to continue with the scheduled matches. However, cricket fans in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by the last minute withdrawal.”

Ardern said her government “fully supports the decision that has been taken,” adding: “The safety of players must be the highest priority.”

Pakistan national team captain Babar Azam chirp:External link “Very disappointed with the sudden postponement of the series, which could have brought back smiles to millions of Pakistani cricket fans.

“I have complete confidence in the capabilities and credibility of our security services.”

Ramiz Raja, Chairman of PCB She said:External link “I feel sorry for the fans and our players. Leaving the Tour with a one-sided approach to a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not being shared. New Zealand will hear us at the ICC (International Cricket Council).”

An ECB statement said: “We are aware of New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from the Pakistan tour due to the security alert.

“We are in contact with our security team on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation. The ECB Governing Council will then decide within the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should continue.”

Last week, the final test between England and India at Old Trafford was called off at the last minute after tourists reported a number of Covid-19 cases inside their camp, while England postponed its planned tour of Bangladesh until 2023.

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