New Zealand's tour is rescheduled after security worries
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have agreed on a revised schedule for their forthcoming one-day series after the tourists expressed their misgivings about travelling to Karachi at a time of heightened security fears in the city. The New Zealand squad was scheduled to arrive in Karachi on November 20, but will now arrive in Lahore a week later on November 27. The members of the New Zealand squad in India will return home on Thursday (November 20).
The revised itinerary means that all five ODIs will be played in a nine day period, staring in Lahore on November 29 and ending in Rawalpindi on December 7.
Martin Snedden, New Zealand Cricket's chief executive, confirmed there had been no need to ask for increased security for the side because it had been of the highest level in the first place. That point had been made after a visit to Pakistan by NZC security expert Reg Dickason.
The replacement players for Craig McMillan, Lou Vincent, Scott Styris and Ian Butler are expected to be named on Thursday, or Friday at the latest. Snedden said the players concerned had all indicated their willingness to tour.
The decision to go ahead with the tour after receipt of a threat had been a comprehensive process in which a number of issues were dealt with, and the players, and their players' association, had been happy with the provisions made. Snedden said he did expect that there would be discussion between players and their partners and families now that they were returning home, but he didn't expect these would result in more player withdrawals.
Snedden added that captain Stephen Fleming had not been completely ruled out of returning with the team. His abdominal injury is to be assessed tomorrow when it would be clearer how long his recovery would be.
He also said that he was well aware of the perception that New Zealand had become something of a reluctant tourist to the sub-continent but pointed out that the team had been involved in six or seven close scrapes over the years, far more than all the other countries in the game. He added that Cricket Australia had cancelled three tours over the years, South Africa and the West Indies had cancelled two while England and Sri Lanka had each cancelled one tour.
But Snedden said he wasn't worried about the perception that other people may have of New Zealand. "My prime responsibility is the safety and security of our players. I have to think about what is best for our players and in the best interests of player security."
Snedden said he fully supported the decision of the four players returning home and was aware that it took some of the players exposed to the Karachi bomb which exploded outside their hotel last year "quite awhile" to get over the incident. "I would not expect that sort of thing to go away quickly."
While the Pakistan Cricket Board had intimated through the media that if New Zealand did not tour, they would cancel the reciprocal tour to New Zealand over Christmas-New Year, Snedden could not recall having receiving that advice from the PCB directly.
Both NZC and PCB had been keeping the International Cricket Council advised of their discussions, but the ICC had not been involved in the decision-making over the tour's continuation.
Snedden said NZC had been advised not to comment on any specifics related to the threat received against New Zealand players last week.