Wellington: Members of the New Zealand cricket team have been warned their safety would be threatened if this month's tour of Pakistan goes ahead, officials have revealed, leading to four players refusing to go and putting a question mark over the series.
Full details of the threat have not been revealed, but senior batsmen Craig McMillan, Lou Vincent, Scott Styris and Ian Butler have made themselves unavailable for the tour, and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has delayed naming the team until an investigation into the warning is completed. "The threat is being discussed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and investigations are proceeding to determine its validity," NZC chief executive Martin Snedden said, without releasing specifics.
"We have notified the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) of the threat and have entered into a consultation process with them." Snedden was not prepared to speculate on whether the tour would be called off, but he told Radio Sport that the investigation should provide enough information "that will help us make an informed and accurate decision". He said the process would take three or four days and the players would be kept fully informed.
The five-match One-day Series was organised after the Black Caps abandoned a tour of Pakistan last year when a suicide bomber killed 14 people outside their hotel in Karachi. NZC only decided to proceed with the tour last week after a comprehensive security review by independent security adviser Reg Dickason, but said then players, officials had the option of staying home, and there would be no repercussions. The New Zealand team's video analyst, Zach Hitchcock, has also made himself unavailable for the tour.
"Following the traumatic experience in Karachi when the Black Caps last toured Pakistan we agreed that individual team members could make themselves unavailable if they were seriously concerned about safety," Snedden said. The revived tour excludes Karachi and takes in Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The Blacks Caps have at least one more match to play in their current tri-series with India and Australia in India. If they beat India on Saturday, they will then play Australia in the final next Tuesday, four days before their scheduled opening game in Pakistan.