Had no option after receiving ‘specific, credible threat’: NZC chief on abandoned Pakistan tour

Written by The Frontier Post

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White has said that he had “no option” but abandon the tour of Pakistan after receiving advice from the New Zealand government of a ‘specific, credible threat’.

The Black Caps devastated Pakistan’s cricket fraternity on Friday after opting out of their tour of Pakistan minutes before the first ODI was to be played. They had cited a ‘security threat’ as the reason without divulging any further.

In a fresh statement issued by New Zealand Cricket (NZC), White is quoted as reiterating that “while the general tenor of the threat was immediately shared with the PCB, specific details could not, and will not, be disclosed – privately or publicly.”

“We had several conversations with New Zealand government officials before making the decision … unfortunately, given the advice we’d received, there was no way we could stay in the country,” White shared.

The advice to abandon tour was supported by NZC’s security consultants on the ground as well as other independent sources, NZC said.

White, however, said he was “grateful” to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for helping organise the safe departure of the squad from the country.

“We appreciate this has been a terribly difficult time for the PCB and wish to pass on our sincere thanks to Chief Executive Wasim Khan and his team for their professionalism and care,” the statement quoted him as saying.

The New Zealand team “remained comfortable” with its initial decision to tour Pakistan, the NZC chief said, adding that this was based on comprehensive assessments of the security situation, and the risk mitigation measures promised.

However, “everything changed on Friday,” he said. “The advice changed, the threat level changed and, as a consequence, we took the only responsible course of action possible,” he iterated.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s cricket squad has reached Dubai. The squad, comprising 34 players and support staff, flew out of Islamabad on a charter flight. They are now settling into their hotel in Dubai and undergoing a period of self-isolation for 24 hours, according to the statement.

NZC said 24 people from the squad would fly back to New Zealand over the next week as flights and MIQ (managed isolation and quarantine) rooms became available, adding that the rest of the contingent would remain in Dubai and join the T20 World Cup squad for the tournament that is due to start on Oct 17.

On Friday, the New Zealand team had unilaterally postponed the series with Pakistan minutes before the first match was scheduled to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium — a move that had shocked fans and officials.

According to the PCB, Pakistan had “foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams” and had “assured NZC of the same”.

The PCB said that the New Zealand team had been satisfied with the security arrangements throughout their stay, adding that cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world were “disappointed” by the last-minute withdrawal.

The New Zealand cricket team had arrived in Pakistan on September 11 for the first time in 18 years to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals.

The ODI series against New Zealand was supposed to be played at the Rawalpindi Stadium, with matches scheduled for Sept 17, 19, and 21, while the Gaddafi Stadium was slated to host five T20s from Sept 25 to Oct 3.

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