TVNZ : Jacinda Ardern says the Black Caps were the target of a “direct threat” in Pakistan, one that New Zealand Cricket believed endangered them enough to immediately withdraw the team from the tour.
The Prime Minister says the Government fully supported the decision to abandon the tour.
The team arrived in Dubai on Sunday morning, less than 36 hours after abandoning the first one day international against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. 1News understands 10 players and staff are staying on in the Emirati state for the resumption of the Indian Premier League, while 24 others are returning home to New Zealand.
At a press conference today, Ardern told 1News the threat was “credible” and “direct and targeted”.
“It was a matter of New Zealand agencies letting the New Zealand cricket team know about the information that we had in our possession. As soon as that was cited that information was shared with New Zealand Cricket.”
In a statement released today by the New Zealand Cricket Players Assocation (NZCPA), the threat was determined to have spawned while the team was in Pakistan.
“We have complete confidence in the security check processes we follow with NZC prior to going on any tour and remain comfortable with the decision to go – our players were really looking forward to playing in Pakistan for the first time.
“However, the security checking doesn’t stop on arrival and the continued risk assessments had determined that the situation for our team had changed last Friday and that a decision needed to be made to leave.”
“We really feel for Pakistan Cricket Board CEO Wasim Khan and his team given the work they had put in to ensure the tour could go ahead, and we only hope that one day the situation will be such that we will be able to return safely.”
NZCPA CEO Heath Mills told 1News on Sunday there had been an evacuation plan in place and players were told the team would withdraw from the country if there was a security threat.
Pakistan paramilitary troops stand guard outside the Pindi Cricket Stadium following cancelling of 1st one day international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand. Source: Associated Press
He said they and NZC had been alerted to a potential threat on Friday morning and spent time during the day working through the information they were given as well as getting information from independent sources on the ground in Pakistan. It was deemed serious and credible and the decision was made to withdraw from Pakistan.
On Sunday, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said he was grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for helping organise the safe departure of the New Zealand team.
He said the team had been very much looking forward to the Pakistan series but were faced with no option but to abandon the tour.
While the general tenor of the threat was immediately shared with the PCB, White reiterated that specific details could not, and will not, be disclosed – privately or publicly.
“What I can say is that we were advised this was a specific and credible threat against the team.
“We had several conversations with New Zealand government officials before making the decision and it was after informing the PCB of our position that we understand a telephone discussion was conducted between the respective Prime Ministers.
“Unfortunately, given the advice we’d received, there was no way we could stay in the country.”
The Black Caps had been touring Pakistan for the first time in 18 years. The subcontinent nation has been dogged by security issues for decades. In 2002, New Zealand abandoned its tour after a bomb went off outside their Karachi hotel, returning the following year to complete the series.
In 2009, the Sri Lankan team were attacked by gunmen and bombs on their way to the ground for the third day of a Test match against Pakistan in Lahore. Several players and staff were injured and the incident led to nearly all of Pakistan’s home games being played in the United Arab Emirates for the next decade.
Test cricket returned to Pakistan in 2019 for the first time since the attack on the Sri Lankan team with the security situation having improved. However, New Zealand’s decision to abandon their tour could have detrimental effects on the future of international cricket in Pakistan. It is understood England are re-evaluating their upcoming tour in light of New Zealand’s decision. (TVNZ)