RAWALPINDI: Despite all assurances from the Pakistani government and a positive security assessment, New Zealand Cricket has cancelled its Pakistan tour, citing “security threats” just before the start of the first ODI match.
The Black Caps were to play Pakistan this evening in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five match T20 series.
The team had arrived in the country after 18 years following positive reviews from a security expert assigned by them to assess the situation.
In a statement, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that the New Zealand Cricket informed the board that they had been alerted to some security alert and has unilaterally decided to postpone the series.
The PCB stated that the board and the Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams and assured the Black Caps of the same.
The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team,” the statement added.
The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan government throughout their stay here, the PCB added.
The PCB said that the board is willing to continue the scheduled matches.
Cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last-minute withdrawal.
Not possible to continue
Meanwhile, the New Zealand board said that it is not possible for their team to continue the tour.
“The BLACKCAPS are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert,” it said in a statement without elaborating further on the matter.
“However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.”
The board said that arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.
NZC chief executive David White said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving.
“I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.”
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said, “We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision.”
“The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests.”