KARACHI: Zimbabwe pulled out of this month's historic cricket tour to Pakistan and then retracted their decision within 16 minutes in a bizarre turnaround on Thursday.
Zimbabwe Cricket initially released a statement saying that a decision had been reached not to tour on the advice of the country's supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
The SRC had previously cited concerns over the safety of the touring party.
But after the news release was issued, the statement was withdrawn and Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman Lovemore Banda told Reuters that discussions were still on-going.
“At this time the tour has not been suspended. The executive and board of Zimbabwe Cricket are still in discussions,” he said.
Banda would not put a time frame on when a decision would be made, saying only that it would be announced “as soon as the discussions are finalised”.
A statement issued by Zimbabwe Cricket earlier today had said: “The decision not to tour at this time has been taken after considering the advice from the country's supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sports and Recreational Commission.”
Before any official statements were released by Zimbabwe Cricket, reports had emerged that Zimbabwe's authorities were assessing the security situation in Pakistan after a terrorist attack in Karachi killed 45 people on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe, if it tours Pakistan, will be the first ICC full member team to do so since March 2009, when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore. Since then only non-Test-playing Kenya and Associate Afghanistan have toured Pakistan.
Pakistan and Zimbabwe last faced off in Zimbabwe two years ago with coach Dav Whatmore at the helm.
Final decision to be made tomorrow
After today's events, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shaharyar Khan told media personnel that Zimbabwe had not called off the tour and that a final decision in this regard will be conveyed to the PCB on Friday (tomorrow).
The PCB chief said he was still hopeful the tour would go ahead as planned, adding that Pakistan had reassured Zimbabwe of complete security during the tour.
Pakistan's chief selector Haroon Rasheed, while talking to media personnel in Faisalabad, said efforts were being made to persuade Zimbabwe authorities to go ahead with the scheduled tour.