The England and Wales Cricket Council will spend the weekend deciding whether to cancel next month’s tours to Pakistan after New Zealand abandoned its current visit to the country citing advice from security.
The Black Caps were due to start the first of eight white ball internationals at Rawalpindi on Friday afternoon, but instead canceled the tour at the 11th hour, with players being asked to stay in their hotel rooms and prepare for a flight. back.
A statement from New Zealand Cricket read: “[Following] An escalation in levels of threat from the New Zealand government to Pakistan and advice from NZC security advisers on the ground, it was decided that the Black Caps would not continue the tour.
The Pakistan Cricket Board stressed that this was a “one-sided” decision taken by their guests and intervened despite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan having contacted his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern directly, to assure him that the local intelligence services had detected no such threat.
A statement from the PCB read: “The PCB and the government of Pakistan have made full security arrangements for all visiting teams. Security officials from the New Zealand team have been pleased with the security arrangements made by the Pakistani government throughout their stay here. “
The tour was New Zealand’s first to Pakistan since 2003 and, in addition to extending the 18-year absence, the decision will have alarmed both England teams who are due to fly to Rawalpindi next month.
Eoin Morgan’s men face the back-to-back T20 internationals on October 13-14 as part of their preparations for the World Cup campaign that kicks off in the United Arab Emirates the following week, while Heather Knight’s women’s team are expected to compete in play two. T20 and three ODIs.
This is England’s first visit to Pakistan since 2005 and was organized as a sign of gratitude to the PCB; along with the West Indies, Ireland and Australia, their men’s test team agreed to play in the UK last summer, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, helping English cricket avoid a loss of 300 million of pounds sterling.
But now that goodwill will be put to the test by New Zealand’s move, with an ECB spokesperson saying: “We are liaising with our security team which is on the ground in Pakistan to fully understand. the situation. The ECB board will then decide within the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should continue. “
While the ECB may take a different stance from its New Zealand counterparts and decide that the tour remains viable, its fate may still depend on the players; the perspective of Morgan, the all-powerful male captain who previously chose to miss the 2016 Bangladesh tour due to security concerns, will likely be key.
Regardless, New Zealand’s move represents the latest disruption on the international calendar, with the ECB still counting the cost of the fifth test abandoned last week at Old Trafford after a Covid-19 outbreak among staff behind the scenes of India saw their players withdraw from the game.