18 Sep 2021

Black Caps could have been attacked, Pakistan govt was told

12:08 pm on 18 September 2021

The Black Caps abruptly abandoned their tour of Pakistan with the government there saying NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told them the team could have been attacked.

Black Caps Captain Tom Latham.


The one-day and T20 series has been cancelled with New Zealand Cricket citing a security alert in a massive blow to Pakistan's hopes of staging regular international games.

The tour was due to get underway with the first of three one-dayers in Rawalpindi on Friday but New Zealand did not travel to the stadium.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) then issued a statement announcing their decision to call off the tour.

"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 Black Caps will not continue with the tour," it said.

NZC declined to share details of the security threat and said arrangements were being made for the team's departure.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today it is in contact with the Black Caps.

MFAT said it has provided ongoing and consistent advice that Pakistan remains a high-threat security environment, and it will not comment on New Zealand Cricket's decision to end the tour.

New Zeland Black Caps cricket tour to Pakistan is called off due to a government security alert.
One Day international cricket match. Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Friday 17 September 2021. © Mandatory photo credit: Furqan Bhatti / www.photosport.nz

Pakistan security forces outside the stadium in Rawalpindi. Photo: www.photosport.nz / Furqan Bhatti

Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said Pakistan security agencies did not have any such information.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said NZC had "unilaterally decided to postpone the series" despite "foolproof security arrangements" made for the matches.

"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 PCB said in a statement.

"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."

Newly-appointed PCB chairman Ramiz Raja, a former Pakistan captain, said they would approach the International Cricket Council (ICC) over what transpired on a "crazy day".

"Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it's not shared!! Which world is NZ living in?? NZ will hear us at ICC," Raja tweeted.

PM backs pullout

New Zealand, minus several frontline players, were visiting Pakistan for the first time in 18 years and were also due to play five Twenty20 matches in Lahore.

Top teams have largely shunned Pakistan following an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians.

"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," NZC chief executive David White said.

Prime Minister Ardern backed NZC's decision to end the tour.

"I know how disappointing it will be for everyone that the game hasn't gone ahead, but we totally support the decision that's been made. Player safety has to be paramount," she said in a statement.

More disappointment could be in store for the PCB with England now reconsidering what was to be their first Pakistan visit in 16 years to play two T20 matches in Rawalpindi next month.

"We are liaising with our security team who are on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand the situation," an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spokesperson said.

The ECB Board will decide in the next few days if the tour should proceed.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam summed up the sentiments in Pakistan where fans have been starved of live action involving top teams.

"Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the (NZ) series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan cricket fans," tweeted the batsman.

He says he has "full trust in the capabilities and credibility" of Pakistan's security agencies.

Commentator shocked

Pakistan Cricket's official account has been sharing tweets from high-profile figures vouching for the country's security.

These include a video from cricket commentator Mike Haysman.

"We were just about to go to air to start the 35-minute build-up. We realised the teams hadn't arrived. We were soon told there was some sort of issue and subsequently the news unfolded later.

"I was in Pakistan early in the year for the South Africa series and that went off without a hitch. Security was great - everything was fine.

"But this one ...it's just a real big shock to us all."

Former player and coach Azar Mahmood took to social media as well to say Pakistan is safe and had good levels of security.

He hoped there would be what he called "transparency" over the New Zealand decision so that the Pakistan team can host international matches at home.

And Pakistan cricketer Wahab Riaz says he is feeling dejected and disappointed.

Pakistan has been trying to encourage more test nations to play in Pakistan after many shunned it following the attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore in 2009.


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