PCB says upcoming visit of NZ security official nothing to do with developments in Afghanistan

Published August 20, 2021
In this Dec 18, 2020 file photo, New Zealand's James Neesham (C) and Mitchell Santner celebrate the Kiwis victory in their first T20I against Pakistan in Auckland. — AFP
In this Dec 18, 2020 file photo, New Zealand's James Neesham (C) and Mitchell Santner celebrate the Kiwis victory in their first T20I against Pakistan in Auckland. — AFP

Dispelling the impression that the visit of Reg Dickason — a long-time independent security consultant for New Zealand Cricket (NZC) — to Pakistan next week was related to the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday said that Dickason was "always scheduled" to visit the country as part of NZC's tour protocols.

During his visit, Dickason would inspect the stadia in Rawalpindi and Lahore and report back to New Zealand Cricket, the spokesperson said.

"The PCB remains confident the tour will take place and is already working hard to make it a success," the spokesperson affirmed.

"Dickason's tour was always scheduled in late August, following his visit to Bangladesh, and is not related to the latest developments in Afghanistan," he further said.

The PCB spokesperson's comments came after some local and international media outlets reported that New Zealand's tour to Pakistan — the first in 18 years — was uncertain amid the situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban took control of the capital Kabul earlier this week and declared that the war was over.

Dickason is also a security consultant for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and will submit a report to them as well, the PCB spokesperson said.

England's men and women teams are due to tour Pakistan in October.

NZ players express concerns

New Zealand agreed to undertake the Black Caps' tour of Pakistan, with three One-day Internationals and five T20s scheduled for Rawalpindi and Lahore from September 17 to October 3. The unrest in Kabul is taking place 400km from Rawalpindi, where New Zealand are scheduled to play Pakistan in their opening match.

However, some players have reportedly expressed their concerns over security in Pakistan after the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, New Zealand batting great Glenn Turner also questioned whether NZC has its players' best interests at heart by agreeing to tour Pakistan.

"Just when duty of care for athletes has become a hot topic, NZC announces a tour to Pakistan," Turner, also a former New Zealand coach and selector, wrote in the Otago Daily Times newspaper.

"Pakistan is not only Covid-19 ravaged, currently averaging around 4500 reported cases daily, but even more concerning are the developments of Taliban successes in neighbouring Afghanistan."

However, New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills said that Dickason would visit Pakistan for a detailed assessment of the situation.

"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," Mills said.

"That includes players, which is completely understandable. We just need to assure them of the process, and follow it, and reach a determination."

Mills said if any players decided not to tour for safety reasons they could withdraw without fear of repercussions from NZC.

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