Uncertainty clouds New Zealand’s upcoming Pakistan cricket tour amid Afghan developments

Amid uncertainty over New Zealand’s upcoming cricket tour to Pakistan after some players reportedly expressed their security concerns in the wake of the Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan, the visiting side is rushing in security consultant Reg Dickason to Pakistan next week

Aug 20, 2021
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New Zealand-Pakistan cricket

Amid uncertainty over New Zealand’s upcoming cricket tour to Pakistan after some players reportedly expressed their security concerns in the wake of the Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan, the visiting side is rushing in security consultant Reg Dickason to Pakistan next week.

However,  the Pakistan Cricket Board claims Dickason’s trip is unrelated to the Afghan situation.

Dickason - a long-time independent security consultant for New Zealand Cricket (NZC) — will inspect the stadia in Rawalpindi and Lahore during his visit.

A spokesperson for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Dickason was "always scheduled" to visit the country as part of NZC's tour protocols.

The PCB spokesperson's comments came after some local and international media outlets reported that New Zealand's tour to Pakistan — the first in 18 years — was uncertain amid the situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban took control of capital Kabul earlier this week plunging the region into uncertainty.

"The PCB remains confident the tour will take place and is already working hard to make it a success," the spokesperson affirmed, according to Dawn.

"Dickason's tour was always scheduled in late August, following his visit to Bangladesh, and is not related to the latest developments in Afghanistan," he said.

Dickason is also a security consultant for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and will submit a report to them as well, the PCB spokesperson said.

England's men and women teams are due to tour Pakistan in October.

New Zealand agreed to tour Pakistan, with three One-day Internationals and five T20s scheduled for Rawalpindi and Lahore from September 17 to October 3.

The unrest in Kabul happened 400 km from Rawalpindi, where New Zealand are scheduled to play Pakistan in their opening match.

However, some players have reportedly expressed their concerns over security in Pakistan after the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan.

New Zealand batting great Glenn Turner has also questioned whether NZC has its players' best interests at heart by agreeing to tour Pakistan.

"Just when the duty of care for athletes has become a hot topic, NZC announces a tour to Pakistan," Turner, also a former New Zealand coach and selector, wrote in the Otago Daily Times newspaper.

"Pakistan is not only Covid-19 ravaged, currently averaging around 4500 reported cases daily but even more concerning are the developments of Taliban successes in neighboring Afghanistan."

However, New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said Dickason would visit Pakistan for a detailed assessment of the situation.

"We're very comfortable with the process we've got, but notwithstanding that, with events in Afghanistan in the last few days, it's very sad what's happening in that country and people are obviously asking questions of our security check processes," Mills said.

"That includes players, which is completely understandable. We just need to assure them of the process, and follow it, and reach a determination."

Mills said if any players decided not to tour for safety reasons they could withdraw without fear of repercussions from NZC.

(SAM)

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