There's growing uncertainty over New Zealand's historic tour of Pakistan in September amid their neighboring nation Afghanistan's takeover by the Taliban. The Black Caps will first head to Bangladesh next week to play five T20Is. However, they have raised concerns about continuing on to Pakistan after that.
Led by Tom Latham, New Zealand's second-string squad under coach Glenn Pocknall are scheduled to leave for Dhaka on Monday. With the Kiwis' star players set to fulfill their IPL duties, Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson will not be available for either series.
New Zealand Cricket Players Association's Chief Executive Heath Mills revealed to Stuff.co.nz that they have a thorough process implemented, led by security teams to do a full check. While he sympathized with what the citizens of Afghanistan are going through, Mills asserted that players have expressed concerns about the situation in Pakistan. He said:
"We’re very comfortable with the process we’ve got, but notwithstanding that, with events in Afghanistan in the last few days, it’s very sad what’s happening in that country and people are obviously asking questions of our security check processes. That includes players, which is completely understandable. We just need to assure them of the process, and follow it, and reach a determination."
New Zealand might withdraw if necessary
Independent security consultant Reg Dickason will visit Pakistan to assess the security situation. He will reportedly take "four or five days" to assess whether the tour can go ahead. The Australian, who will travel with the players if the series goes ahead, reserves the right to pull out the entire contingent if necessary. Elaborating on the plan, Mills said:
"That will take him four or five days and then he’ll report back, and recommend whether the tour goes ahead, or it doesn’t for whatever reason... if there are changes to whatever the plan might be. And at any point if he’s uncomfortable he would communicate that and the team would exit Pakistan."
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During New Zealand's tour of Pakistan in 2002, Dickason was with the Black Caps when a bomb went off in a bus outside their Karachi hotel. Consequently, the tourists abandoned the second Test. However, they returned to play five ODIs in 2003, and that was the last time the Kiwis visited the nation.
New Zealand's upcoming tour includes three ODIs and five T20Is in Rawalpindi and Lahore respectively. The ODIs are scheduled for September 17, 19, and 21 while the T20s are slated for September 25, 26, 29, October 1 and 3.