After New Zealand, England calls off cricket series in Pakistan citing security threat

Three days after New Zealand pulled out its team without playing the series, English cricket officials also “reluctantly” decided to withdraw their men and women teams that were scheduled to play to limited over series, citing “increasing concerns.”

Sep 21, 2021
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After New Zealand, England calls off cricket series in Pakistan

Three days after New Zealand pulled out its team without playing the series, English cricket officials also “reluctantly” decided to withdraw their men and women teams that were scheduled to play to limited over series, citing “increasing concerns.” The England and Wales Cricket Board decided to re-evaluate its decision to play in Pakistan after the New Zealand Cricket abandoned its men’s team’s tour of Pakistan following a government alert that warned of a possible attack outside Rawalpindi stadium.

The ECB  in a statement said, “the mental and physical wellbeing of our players and support staff” is paramount but didn’t provide any specific security details. 

“We know there are increasing concerns about traveling to the region,” the ECB said, “and believe that going ahead will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted COVID environments.”

Reacting to the decision, Pakistan Cricket Board’s newly appointed chairman Ramiz Raja said on Twitter, “Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment & failing a member of their Cricket fraternity when it needed it most. Survive we will inshallah.”

He also added, "it is a wake-up call for (the) Pak team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses." 

Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said he had no information about a security threat against the New Zealanders. However, local media reported that Lahore Police had circulated internally a security assessment that warned of a possible attack. 

Furthermore, the intelligence alert that prompted New Zealand’s decision to pull its team came from a global intelligence alliance of five nations (UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). 

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told his Pakistani counterpart she had information the players could come under attack outside of the stadium, the interior minister informed. 

England men’s and women’s teams were scheduled to play all of their matches in Rawalpindi. No international cricket team visited Pakistan for almost a decade until 2019 after the Sri Lankan team was attacked in 2009.

The security atmosphere has deteriorated to the extent that Pakistan has been struggling to convince teams to play a series in the city where its own military headquarters is based. 

(SAM)