Sport Reporter Lahore
As the New Zealand cricket team cancelled the hotly anticipated series against Pakistan at the eleventh hour citing security threats, fans, analysts and cricket enthusiasts took to Twitter expressing anger and exasperation, and questioned whether the whole situation could have been handled better.
The New Zealand cricket board “unilaterally” cancelled the ODI and T20I series earlier Friday that had to culminate on October 3, leaving fans dismayed, with some calling Pakistan to lodge a protest for the “embarrassment” caused.
Others indicated a need for prospective damage-control strategy for teams scheduled to tour Pakistan next.
Pakistan Cricket Board’s new chairman Ramiz Raja said it was frustrating to see the “unilateral approach” of New Zealand over security, adding that Pakistan would take the matter to the International Cricket Council.
Pakistan Captain Babar Azam said he was “extremely disappointed” by the abrupt postponement of the series, but he emphasised he had “full trust in the capabilities and credibility” of the country’s security agencies.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation earlier in the day with New Zealand’s premier, Jacinda Ardern, who expressed satisfaction over security measures taken by Pakistan for the visitors.
While hailing Pakistan’s intelligence agencies as “among the best intelligence systems in the world”, the minister said the New Zealand prime minister had sought postponement of the series “in view of the policy of extreme caution”.
Like the fans, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan was left equally shocked by the development, saying the last-minute cancellation of the tour by the Kiwis was beyond comprehension.
Wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal was also devastated by the news, and termed it a sad day for the sport at the national level.
All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said Pakistan was safe and the postponement of the series was “sad” news for the whole nation.
Pakistan Super League franchise Islamabad United’s General Manager Rehanul Haq was also stumped by the announcement, calling it “heartbreaking”.
‘Cancellation may impact other teams too’ Indian commentator Harsha Boghle felt the cancellation of the tour would also impact future tours of other teams to Pakistan.
Sports journalist Roha Nadeem questioned New Zealand’s intelligence, asking: “Have NZ forgotten how Bangladesh players were minutes away from Christchurch mosque at the time of shootings? Where was their intelligence then?”
“…The world moved on like nothing happened but somehow touring Pakistan is a trip to Mordor.”
A senior leader of the opposition PML-N, Mohammad Zubair, suggested that Pakistan should lodge a protest, saying there was no basis for cancelling the tour when the security was foolproof.
Singer and activist Fakhre Alam said as a Pakistani citizen, “I want to know the credible threat that [New Zealand Cricket] found”. “It is only fair to share that intelligence with the Government of Pakistan so that if there is a real threat it can be neutralised immediately & lives are protected,” he tweeted.