In statement, New Zealand Cricket says decision prompted by ‘escalation’ in threat levels
The New Zealand cricket team on Friday cancelled at the last-minute a planned series of matches in Pakistan, with a statement by New Zealand Cricket saying the decision was prompted by security threats.
“Following an escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from New Zealand Cricket security advisers on the ground, it has been decided the Black Caps will not continue with the tour,” read a statement issued by New Zealand Cricket. “Arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure,” it added.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said it was not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving. “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board], who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,” he added.
In its own statement, the PCB said that New Zealand Cricket had unilaterally decided to postpone the series. “Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same,” it said, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had personally informed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 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.”
Claiming that the New Zealand team’s security officials had been satisfied with security arrangements thus far, the PCB said it was willing to continue the scheduled matches. “However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal,” it added.
The first of three ODI matches was meant to begin at 2 p.m., but players never reached the ground at Rawalpindi and were told to stay inside their rooms. Fans were also not allowed into the ground.
The series was set to be New Zealand’s first in Pakistan since 2003, with five Twenty20s planned for Lahore after the three one-day matches in Rawalpindi. The team had not toured Pakistan since 2003 due to security concerns.
The New Zealand Cricket team had reached Pakistan on Saturday and had underwent mandatory isolation for three days before commencing practice sessions on Sept. 15.