New Zealand (NZ) cricket team departing right before their match in Pakistan has left cricket fans both angry and despondent.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Friday that NZ’s Black Caps cited security concerns and cut their tour short wherein they were set to play three one-day international and five Twenty20 matches in the country.
The development resulted in disappointment and lamentation on part of cricket fans and players alike. Retired cricketer Shoaib Akhtar listed key points in a scathing response to NZ’s decision. Akhtar said that when Christ Church incident happened, Pakistan stood strong with NZ despite nine Pakistanis having lost their lives in the terror attack. Pakistan still toured NZ during the pandemic, said Akhtar. He added that the alleged security threat was ‘unverified’ and could have been relayed to authorities in Pakistan, but NZ chose not to heed to the PM’s assurance that the international team would remain safe.
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.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) September 17, 2021
Others like journalist Roha Nadeem also referenced NZ’s Christ Church attack and said that international players weren’t safe in NZ either as Bangladesh’s cricket team was mere minutes away and had to make a frantic escape when shots were fired.
Have NZ forgotten how Bangladesh players were minutes away from Christchurch mosque at the time of shootings? Where was their intelligence then?
The world moved on like nothing happened but somehow touring Pak is a trip to Mordor. #PakvNZ
— Roha Nadeem (@RohaNadym) September 17, 2021
The cricket community lamented the hit the sport took in Pakistan after NZ’s declaration. Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja said that he felt for Pakistani players and fans. He critiqued NZ for walking out of the tour ‘unilaterally’ without consultations on the security threat. Raja declared that Pakistan would have much to say to NZ at the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Crazy day it has been! Feel so sorry for the fans and our players. Walking out of the tour by taking a unilateral approach on a security threat is very frustrating. Especially when it’s not shared!! Which world is NZ living in??NZ will hear us at ICC.
— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) September 17, 2021
Cricketer Shan Masood said that the sudden move was ‘extremely disappointing’ despite Pakistan providing high-level security to the team.
Pakistan has made monumental efforts to get international cricket back on track. We’ve lost a lot with no international cricket for 6 years in the past and today might set us back again. The pulling out and the abrupt timing of the decision is extremely disappointing. #PAKvNZ
— Shan Masood (@shani_official) September 17, 2021
Another cricketer, Shaheen Shah Afridi had no words to describe his dismay. He insisted that Pakistan had the best security details and many international teams had completed their tours successfully.
Wish I had words to describe my disappointment. We not only have the best security force in the world but many foreign teams have successfully & peacefully completed their cricket tours in Pakistan. Can feel for the cricket lovers in Pakistan & around the world. #PakistanZindabad
— Shaheen Shah Afridi (@iShaheenAfridi) September 17, 2021
Politicians also chimed in and expressed their despondency. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) member Mohammad Zubair said there was no cause to leave hastily after already being in Pakistan for six days. He said that Pakistan should protest at the highest level.
New Zealand cricket teams decision to leave the country after being here for 6 days is terrible. There is no basis to cause such an embarrassment. Security was fool proof. They shouldn’t have come in the first place. Pakistan should protest at the highest play. Pathetic
— Mohammad Zubair (@Real_MZubair) September 17, 2021
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was ‘gutted’ at the news and said that Punjab had always provided ‘foolproof security’ to foreign players.
Extremely disappointed & gutted by New Zealand Cricket Board's unilateral decision to call off the series.
Punjab Govt had done best arrangements for NZ visit & have also provided foolproof security to all the visiting teams in recent past.
We feel sorry for the cricket fans!!
— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) September 17, 2021
The uproar wasn’t limited to Pakistan as international cricket players also expressed their disapproval of NZ’s departure.
West Indies cricketer Daren Sammy was disappointed and said that he always felt safe when he played in Pakistan. He called the incident a ‘massive blow to Pakistan’.
Disappointed waking up to the news of the cancellation of the Pakistan Vs New Zealand series because of security issues.Over the last 6 years playing and visiting Pakistan has been one of the most enjoyable experiences. I’ve always felt safe. this is a massive blow to Pakistan ☹️
— Daren Sammy (@darensammy88) September 17, 2021
Sri Lankan cricketer Daniel Alexander noted that his country had played multiple times in Pakistan. Other countries like South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh & Zimbabwe also played safely. Alexander added that NZ itself previously played uneventfully, which was all possible because Pakistan was safe for cricket.
Sri Lanka played all 3 formats in Pakistan. South Africa, West Indies, Bangladesh & Zimbabwe played in Pakistan. Many Int'l cricketers played for World XI & PSL in Pakistan, including New Zealand cricketers. All these were possible only because Pakistan safe for cricket. #Cricket
— Daniel Alexander (@daniel86cricket) September 17, 2021
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had spoken with Prime Minister Imran Khan on the matter. The PM apprised Ardern on the security measures for her national team. Chaudhry said that NZ was satisfied with Pakistan’s intelligence who gave the team top notch security. Nevertheless, Ardern exercised caution and insisted on suspension of the tour.
اب سے کچھ دیر قبل وزیر اعظم عمران خان نے نیوزی لینڈ کی وزیر اعظم سے رابطہ کیا اور یقین دلایا کہ پاکستان میں نیوزی لینڈ کی ٹیم کو فول پروف سیکیورٹی میسر ہے اور PCB کے مطابق خود نیوزی لینڈ کی سیکیورٹی نے پاکستان کے سیکیورٹی انتظامات پر اطمینان کا اظہار کیا ہے،
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) September 17, 2021
Cricket in Pakistan has often been marred by security concerns. In 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team was targeted by terrorists as their minivan drove towards Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Several players were injured, while six policemen and two civilians were killed in the attack. The incident cast a dark shadow on Pakistan as international cricket did not return to the country for several years.