Contracted New Zealand cricketers won't take part in World XI series in Pakistan
What’s the story?
International cricket's return to Pakistan has been dealt a major blow as New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have confirmed that the centrally contracted players won't be available for the World XI side that is set to take on Pakistan in a three-match T20I series. NZC chief executive David White also confirmed that the board won't object to the participation of retired players like Luke Ronchi and Brendon McCullum after a risk assessment by Reg Dickson.
NZ players have reportedly been offered more than $100,000 for the series that will take place at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. But White confirmed that the 21 centrally contracted players including the likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Martin Guptill won't play in the series due to "international commitments".
"For the contracted players it's highly likely they will be unavailable [for Pakistan] due to other international commitments, that I can't say any more about at this stage," White said.
"For the non-contracted players there's ongoing security advice from the ICC, and I know the Players' Association has sought independent security advice as well. They'll be guided by that advice and make a decision and they would have to assume the risk of going [to Pakistan]."
In case you didn’t know...
After the 2009 attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus, no international team (barring Zimbabwe) have played a series in Pakistan and the last time New Zealand toured Pakistan was in 2003. In an attempt to bring back international cricket to the country, ICC has scheduled a T20I series featuring a World XI to tour Pakistan. It has been given an international status but a player still requires a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their respective boards to take part.
The heart of the matter
Although Martin Guptill and Trent Boult have recently raised security concerns about the possibility of playing in Pakistan, White admitted that that isn't the reason behind not allowing NZ players to take part in the series.
Currently, the Black Caps aren't scheduled to play any international cricket until their home season begins in December. New Zealand A are expected to tour the sub-continent but the tentative limited-overs series (3 ODIs and 3 T20Is) against India that the senior side are expected to take part in, is the likely reason behind the decision that White hinted at, but didn't confirm.
Speaking about the reason, White said: "It's reality. We can't announce it yet but there's a fairly strong possibility we'll have international commitments over that period that would preclude the players participating."
After their participation in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, New Zealand hasn't had any international matches but are tentatively set to play three ODIs and three T20Is in India.
Several international stars are set to take part in the T20I series that will happen in Lahore next month, which will serve as a big boost for cricket in Pakistan. Although the exact names of the players haven't been released, one hopes that retired stars such as Luke Ronchi and Brendon McCullum confirm their participation along with some current stars to ensure that cricket finally returns to Pakistan.