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NZ tour to Pakistan given go-ahead

New Zealand's tour to Pakistan will go ahead despite a threat to the team's safety, the Kiwi board said.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2003 01:53 IST
Steve McMorran (AP)
Steve McMorran (AP)

New Zealand's cricket tour to Pakistan will go ahead despite a threat to the team's safety, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said Tuesday.

NZC chief executive Martin Snedden said the tour would proceed but would begin a week later than scheduled at the request of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

"The delay to the start of the tour has allowed specific aspects arising out of the threat received against the Black Caps last week to be resolved," Snedden said.

"We have been advised not to comment on any specifics related to that threat."

The scheduled tour was thrown into jeopardy last week when an e-mail threatening the New Zealand team's safety was received by a New Zealand diplomatic post.

The two-sentence e-mail contained a specific threat against the team. New Zealand Cricket has since worked with the PCB, the International Cricket Coundil, New Zealand's ministry of foreign affairs and trade and its own security adviser to establish its source and validity.

Snedden said a five-match one-day series between New Zealand and Pakistan would now begin on Nov. 29, rather than Nov. 20.

Pakistan announced the delay, reportedly at New Zealand's request, to allow New Zealand players currently touring India to recover from injuries.

The New Zealand tour management was unaware of the delay.

Four members of the New Zealand team who refused to travel to Pakistan because of safety concerns arrived home from India on Tuesday. Captain Stephen Fleming has also returned to New Zealand, suffering from a stomach muscle injury.

"The Cricket Players Association and the Black Cap players currently in India have been kept fully informed and are satisfied with the revised playing program," Snedden said. "Security will be at an executive level.

"We are satisfied with the security arrangements but will continue to monitor the situation in the leadup to and during the tour."

The New Zealand players will now return to New Zealand on Thursday for a short break before departing on the Pakistan tour. New Zealand's last tour of Pakistan, in May 2002, was abandoned when a bomb exploded outside the team's Karachi hotel, killing 14 people including 12 foreign workers.

New Zealand Cricket has yet to announce replacements for batsmen Craig McMillan and Lou Vincent, fast bowler Ian Butler and all-rounder Scott Styris who have chosen not to make the Pakistan tour.

The contents of the threatening e-mail received by New Zealand Cricket have not been divulged. Unsourced reports said the e-mail contained a warning that the New Zealand team should not tour during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The delay to the tour's start ensures Ramadan will be over before the tour begins.

Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Samiul Hasan said security fears were not behind the decision to delay the start.

"There were no security fears earlier and nor there will be security fears after (Muslim fasting month) Ramadan," Hasan said. "The tour is revised because New Zealand has injury problems to their key players," Hasan said.

Fleming said on his arrival in Auckland he would support any decision made by New Zealand Cricket on the future of the Pakistan tour. He was uncertain whether his injury would allow him to join the New Zealand touring team.

"It's pretty much up to what happens to my injury," he said. "I would like to do it, but it depends at this stage on how my fitness assessment goes."

First Published: Nov 18, 2003 14:01 IST