Former Pakistan players, team skipper Shahid Afridi and bowler Shoaib Akhtar have condemned New Zealand Cricket (NZC) after the board decided to abandon the Pakistan tour. The board refused to continue with the tour over security concerns of Pakistan and called off the game minutes before the start of the first of three ODIs at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Friday evening.
Shahid Afridi called it a hoax and asked New Zealand whether they realise the impact of their decision of calling off the tour.
“On a HOAX threat you have called-off the tour despite all assurances!! @BLACKCAPS do you understand the IMPACT of your decision?” Afridi tweeted.
In another tweet, Afridi questioned on whose call was the tour cancelled. “I hear from reliable sources the on-ground security advisors were “happy with the roll-out of security arrangements”. Can someone in Auckland please explain to the cricket fraternity who made the call to abandon the tour?” he wrote.
Former pacer Shoaib Akhtar also expressed his disappointment over NZC’s decision and slammed the board saying “NZ just killed Pakistan cricket.”
He went on to state: “Following points for New Zealand to remember: 9 Pakistanis were killed in the Christchurch attack. Pakistan stood strong with New Zealand. Pakistan toured New Zealand in the worst of Covid circumstances regardless of the crude treatment by NZ authorities on that tour.”
Akhtar called the security threat “unverified” and criticized NZC for not discussing the matter with Pakistan authorities before taking a unilateral decision.
“The BLACKCAPS are abandoning their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert,” NZC stated in an official release. “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 BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.“
Earlier, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan also talked to New Zealand’s counterpart, assuring her of the complete safety of all the players. Imran Khan assured that they have the best intelligence systems in the world and no security threat of any kind exists for New Zealand. However, New Zealand was adamant and decided to withdraw from the tour.
NZC chief executive David White echoed the board’s decision and stated that it was “not possible” to carry on with the tour after receiving New Zealand’s Government’s advisory.
“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,” White said.
The tour was supposed to be the first game between the two teams on Pakistan soil since 2003. The series was set to start with the ODI game on Friday at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium following which the action would shift to Lahore for the five-match T20I series.
NZC has refused to comment on the details of the security threat and also do not plan on stating anything on the updated arrangements for the departing squad.