Karachi: New Zealand and Australian Board officials were due in Pakistan on Thursday to check security arrangements ahead of their international tours.
New Zealand team manager Jeff Crowe, Australian Cricket Board (ACB) general manager of cricket operations Richard Watson and Tim May, president of the Australian Players' Association, will visit cricket venues and check security. "These officials are arriving in Pakistan for pre-tour reconnaissance and we hope they would find no problems in Pakistan," Pakistan Cricket Board Brigadier Munawwar Rana told reporters. "It's part and parcel of every tour that officials come and see for themselves the arrangements and security," Rana said. New Zealand is likely to reschedule its tour of Pakistan, comprising two Tests and three Limited Over games, in April-May. Its tour was cancelled four days after the September 11 attacks on the United States, which triggered security fears in and around Pakistan, which was a frontline ally in the US-led war in Afghanistan. Australia is scheduled to tour Pakistan for three Tests and as many One-day games in September-October. "We have been maintaining that security fears are media-hyped and cricket is safe in Pakistan," Rana said. "Pakistan's interior ministry has also given full assurances of security to the New Zealand Board so we hope that all will settle down after that." Former Australia captain Ian Chappell had said that no team would like to play in Pakistan after the United States launched its war in neighbouring Afghanistan in October. West Indies refused to tour Pakistan in January, citing fears for players' security in the wake of the Afghan war and tension on the Pakistan-India border. Pakistan was forced to shift the series to Sharjah, which was played earlier this month. Tension on the Pakistan-India border lingers as New Delhi continues to refuse Islamabad's request for talks, demanding Pakistan must hand over terrorists involved in causing trouble in their country. Pakistan played only one Test on home grounds in 2001 when it hosted Bangladesh in Multan, a fortnight before the suicide attacks on New York and Washington. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) earlier this month threatened New Zealand would be boycotted if it did not tour Pakistan.
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