The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was left ruing massive financial and reputational losses as New Zealand prepared to return home on a chartered flight on Saturday, a day after ending their first Pakistan tour in 18 years following a security alert.
The New Zealand side backed out of the tour minutes before the first One-Day International (ODI) of the series was set to start at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, delivering a major blow to Pakistan, and its efforts to revive regular international cricket on home soil.
In a statement, the New Zealand cricket board stated that its team is abandoning the tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government 'security alert'.
On the other hand, the Pakistan side, which had been reduced to playing its 'home' series in the UAE, hosted New Zealand for the first time since 2003, but was left feeling frustrated and angry on Friday with future tours involving England and Australia also put in jeopardy.
A PCB official, close to the recent development, said the exact amount of loss due to New Zealand's decision is still being calculated. “I can't give you an exact figure at the moment as the details are being worked out," said the official. "What I can tell you is that we have lost all the money which was to come in terms of media rights, series sponsorship and that we spent on series and security arrangements,” the PCB official told Business Recorder on condition of anonymity.
About the upcoming tour of England, the official said both boards were engaged in talks, but the final call is the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) to make.
“Of course, we are in talks with ECB, but the nature of the discussion can't be revealed at the moment. We are doing what we can to save the series,” he added.
England are already reconsidering their limited-overs trip to Pakistan next month while Australia, who are scheduled to visit in February-March next year, also appear wary.
“We’re aware of New Zealand’s decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour due to a security alert,” said the ECB on Friday, adding that it is in constant touch with its security team which is currently in Pakistan to fully understand the situation.
“The ECB Board will then decide in the next 24-48 hours whether our planned tour should proceed.”
England's men and women teams are currently due to play two T20Is in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14, with the women due to stay on for a three-match ODI series as well.
On the other hand, a Cricket Australia spokesperson said the organisation was monitoring the situation and would “talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known”.
On Friday, the cricket series between Pakistan and New Zealand was cancelled on the day the first One-Day International was supposed to start.
NZC chief executive David White, in a statement issued on its website Friday, said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving. “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.”
New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed White’s sentiments.
“We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision,” he said.
“The players are in good hands; they’re safe – and everyone’s acting in their best interests.”
Apart from its financial and reputation repercussions, the news also came as a surprise as New Zealand had earlier given the formal go-ahead to its cricket team’s tour to Pakistan.
The approval came after their independent consultant Reg Dickason gave the green-light to security arrangements in Pakistan following a week-long pre-tour check.