WELLINGTON (NNI): In a move that could dampen the efforts to help bring international cricket back to Pakistan, New Zealand Cricket has strongly hinted that none of its contracted players would play for the International Cricket Council assembled-World XI side for a three-match Twenty20 International series, set to be held in Pakistan. All the matches are set to be played in Lahore’s Gadaffi Stadium in September.
Despite New Zealand’s players being reportedly offered more than $100,000 and no conflicting series scheduled for September, NZC chief executive David White said that their 21 centrally contracted players won’t play in the series due to ‘international commitments’.
“For the contracted players it’s highly likely they will be unavailable [for Pakistan] due to other international commitments, that I can’t say any more about at this stage,” White said. New Zealand A is expected to tour the subcontinent, which will be followed by the national team playing three ODIs and three T20Is in India. However, it is believed that White’s defence has something to do with security concerns raised by Martin Guptill and Trent Boult recently.
Countering the accusation, White added: “It’s reality. We can’t announce it yet but there’s a fairly strong possibility we’ll have international commitments over that period that would preclude the players participating.”
New Zealand last toured Pakistan in 2003, a year after their tour was called off in the country due to a bomb blast outside a hotel in Karachi. Since the 2009 attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus, no international team (apart from Zimbabwe in 2015) has toured Pakistan. The ICC’s decision to arrange for a World XI side to tour Pakistan is an attempt to soothe the security concerns among the players and the boards around the world and bring cricket back in the country.
England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke, who had investigated the security situation in the country as the head of the ICC’s Pakistan task force, had told the Guardian in March: “The desire is to give the cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world’s finest players in live action. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan.”