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Pakistan v New Zealand

Pakistan dispute NZ security concerns after tour abandoned minutes before first ODI

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

New Zealand have abandoned their white-ball tour of Pakistan minutes after the first ODI between the sides was originally due to begin due to security concerns, with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) expressing their displeasure with the Blackcaps’ decision.

The first rumours of disquiet became clear soon before the toss was due to take place, with neither side taking to the field to begin their pre-match preparations. Media reports conflicted as to the reason for the delay, with some suggesting Covid-19 cases in the New Zealand camp were to blame, and others pointing to a security alert.

A statement from New Zealand Cricket (NZC), released after the original start time of the game, confirmed that the tour had been abandoned, “following a New Zealand government security alert”.

“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 statement added. “Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.”

“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,” said NZC chief executive David White.

However, the PCB, in a statement posted on Twitter, made clear that the decision was made “unilaterally” by New Zealand, adding that “no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team.” They also confirmed their willingness to continue with the scheduled matches.

“Earlier today, the New Zealand cricket board informed us that they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series,” the PCB statement said.

“PCB and Govt of Pakistan made fool proof [sic] security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the NZ cricket board of the same. The 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 security officials with the NZ team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Govt of Pakistan throughout their stay here. PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal.”

The cancellation may have further consequences, with the ECB likely to rethink their upcoming men’s and women’s tours of Pakistan, set for October.

Cricket’s return to Pakistan has increased in speed in recent times. From 2009 to 2019, very little international cricket was held in the country following a terrorist attack on a Sri Lanka team bus during a Test series. Since then, teams have begun to return more frequently, with the entirety of the 2020 Pakistan Super League held in the country, and Sri Lanka returning at the end of 2019 to play the first Tests in the country more than a decade hence.

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