England’s Tour of Pakistan in Severe Doubt
Following New Zealand Cricket’s decision to cancel their tour to Pakistan due to a “government security notice,” the England men’s and women’s tours to Pakistan, set for next month, are in serious question.
The ECB had previously issued the following statement: “We’re in contact with our security team in Pakistan to have a better understanding of the situation. The ECB Board will then decide whether or not our planned tour should go forward in the following 24-48 hours.”
The Board has not yet made an official decision, but the two-match T20I series for England’s men’s squad and the five-match schedule for the women’s team is expected to be postponed. Although there is still a chance that the two series would be played, a source close to the men’s squad said that the tour has been called off.
In a news conference today, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed was asked about the England series and did not appear optimistic about the tour going through. Despite claiming that preparations for England’s tour were ready, Rasheed appeared to hint that the ECB would follow NZC’s lead.
ECB employs the same security firm as NZC
That would not be unexpected. The ECB employs the same security firm as NZC, ensuring that they are receiving the same intelligence that led New Zealand’s decision to leave Pakistan. Reg Dickason, a highly experienced security counsel whom the ECB and its players have complete faith in, leads ESI Risk. They’re hardly likely to disregard his advice.
“Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.” NZC chief executive David White said: “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option.”
The nature of the security concern presented to NZC is unknown, although the PCB issued a statement shortly after the cancellation was confirmed, claiming that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ahern, that no threat existed. The New Zealand squad was guarded by presidential security, which included Pakistani special forces.