Pakistan’s cricketing fraternity has every reason to be incensed, livid and heartbroken
September 17, 2021 was supposed to be a momentous occasion for Pakistan cricket and its fans as they geared up to host New Zealand cricket team for the first time since December 2003. This exultation, however, did not last long.
Fans waited with bated breath as there was no sign of any play, ahead of the first ODI in Rawalpindi, at all when it was scheduled to start.
Several rumors instantly started doing the rounds saying that the play has been delayed after few Kiwi players tested positive for coronavirus. It was just few minutes before the toss when the word came through the New Zealand camp that they have called off the tour due to security concerns.
Pakistan’s cricketing fraternity has every reason to be incensed, livid and heartbroken after hearing the shocking news. New Zealand were provided with everything they asked for or could have asked for. Every team which has toured Pakistan since resumption of international cricket, in May 2015, has been provided with head-of-the-state level security. For every team, there have been countless paramilitary personnel with impeccable security measures all along the way from stadium to the hotel. As if series against South Africa, Sri Lanka or star-studded ICC World XI wasn't a good enogh illustration for them of the level of security PCB provides, they also got an assurance from Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan, himself and a nod from long-standing security consultant, Reg Dickason, who inspected the security situation prior to their arrival.
There is another view to consider which noted journalists Hassan Cheema and Rehanul Haq rightly posited on a Twitter space.
“Security situations change within a matter of few minutes and it is perfectly understandable why New Zealand took that decision,” said Rehan.
“They were well within their rights to abandon the tour if they had received a threat alert especially considering that Kiwi's Batting Coach Thilan Samaraweera suffered bullet injury in his hamstring when Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in 2009. Nonetheless, the manner in which they pulled out can deal a cruel blow to Pakistan cricket in more ways than one,” said Hassan.
Although New Zealand’s impromptu withdrawal owing to security concerns can severely hurt the chances of forthcoming tours by top international teams to Pakistan, it has been extremely heartening to see the outpouring of support from cricketers like Daren Sammy, Sherfane Rutherford, David Wiese, Dimuth Karunaratne and others for Pakistan cricket. This is neither the time for political point scoring nor is it the time to compare terrorist attacks in New Zealand to the terrorist attacks in 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
Pakistani cricketers are no trifle pushovers and they shouldn’t be treated like one. As in, the uppermost task on PCB's plate should be to reach out to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and other cricket boards they are slated to host next, convince them that Pakistan is safe to host international cricket and ensure that the potential repercussions of New Zealand's disdainful withdrawal does not undo the hard work they have put in over the past decade.