19 Sep 2021

NZ Cricket stand by Black Caps abandoned tour of Pakistan

3:24 pm on 19 September 2021

New Zealand Cricket are standing by their decision to send the Black Caps to, and remove them from, Pakistan.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White.

Photo: Photosport

A group of 34 players and staff arrived safely in Dubai on Sunday morning after leaving Islamabad late last night on a charter flight.

New Zealand Cricket cancelled the tour on Friday night, just before the start of the first one-dayer in Rawalpindi, citing a a "specific and credible" security threat.

Reports on Sunday suggested there had been a bomb threat to the team's hotel and flights, but chief executive David White said he hadn't had any information of that nature.

He did reveal they had received threats towards players via email "a few weeks ago" but said they were investigated and proven to be a "hoax and not credible".

He added that while the situation had led some to question whether the Black Caps should have gone to Pakistan at all, he was comfortable with the original call.

"We went through thorough security checks and were ensured of the very high level of security that was to be provided.

"Also, there have been a number of teams who have toured there recently ...

"We don't regret the decision to tour there but it all changed on Friday when the [threat] increased significantly."

The decision to withdraw had not gone down well in Pakistan.

As well as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and government officials, fans in the cricket-mad country had been left angry and frustrated, with some questioning the credibility of the threat.

White said they wouldn't be revealing any further details and it was his understanding specifics in these situations were never made public.

But he emphasised that they checked and double checked before making their decision.

"It came from the [New Zealand] government, who advised we had a specific, credible threat to the team.

"We were obviously very concerned with that and worked through that with the government on Friday, and also with our security providers in Pakistan.

"[They] also endorsed that information, as well as other independent agencies."

No caption

Photo: NZ Cricket

The decision was being fully backed by the New Zealand Cricket Players Association.

After a long couple of days, the organisation's chief executive Heath Mills said the group's arrival in Dubai was a relief for everyone.

"Obviously for the players and their families it has been an anxious time, there's no doubt about that.

"So for them to exit Pakistan late last night and arrive safely in Dubai has been great for everyone. We're very pleased for that."

The New Zealand contingent would now undergo a 24-hour period of self-isolation in a Dubai hotel.

Twenty-four of the group would return to New Zealand over the next week or so, as flights and MIQ rooms became available.

The rest of the touring party would remain in the UAE and join up with the Black Caps T20 World Cup squad, with the tournament starting on 17 October.

White said they still wanted to play the three ODIs and five T20s that had been scheduled in Pakistan, and hoped to work with the PCB in the coming weeks and months to find a solution.

He was hopeful the PCB would be open to moving forward, but acknowledged the frustration among many there.

"They're a very passionate cricketing nation, I understand that.

"But on the advice we'd received from the government that we had a specific, credible threat to the safety of the team, players safety was paramount.

"We had no option but to abandon the tour."

Meanwhile, the local Pakistan community believes New Zealand is sending the wrong message with the decision to abandon the tour.

Asim Mukhtar from the Pakistan Association of New Zealand, says the threat is exaggerated.

He says Pakistan has won accolades as a great tourism destination and he fears that reputation could be harmed.

Asim Mukhtar hopes the planned England tour will still go ahead.

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