Auckland : Members of the New Zealand cricket team are free to pull out of this month's tour to Pakistan if they have security fears, but cricket authorities say they do not expect many defections. The Black Caps are returning to complete a series abandoned last year when a suicide bomber killed 14 people outside their hotel in Karachi. The New Zealand Press Association said it understands some members of the New Zealand team, currently playing in a series in India, are uncomfortable about returning to Pakistan.
In-form batsman Craig McMillan, who opted out of the Champions Trophy Tournament in Sri Lanka four months after the Karachi blast, gave a flat "no comment" when asked if he was available for the revived Pakistan tour. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) officials said security checks undertaken by Australian adviser Reg Dickason found no reason for the tour not to go ahead, but players and officials have the option of staying home and there would be no repercussions. "I don't expect many to opt out but I can understand if one or two are doubtful," NZC chief executive Martin Sneddon said.
Sneddon said Dickason was in Pakistan when South Africa toured there last month and he described security arrangements as "very tight, akin to a visiting head of state". The southern port city of Karachi has been excluded from the itinerary of five One- Day matches, which starts at Faisalabad on November 22 and also takes in Rawalpindi and Lahore. New Zealand agreed to the return tour after Pakistan demanded monetary compensation after last year's series was cut short.
After the Kiwis' close call in May 2002, Australia and the West Indies refused to play scheduled tours in Pakistan and both series were transferred to neutral third countries. Bangladesh restored international matches to cricket-mad Pakistan three months ago, and South Africa followed soon after.