Zimbabwe’s national cricket team’s tour of Pakistan is in danger of cancellation at the advice of government which is against the team travelling to the troubled Asian country.
Yesterday Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) officials were locked up in meetings with government officials as they sought to come up with a final position over the matter.
In the afternoon ZC issued a statement to the effect that the tour was off, but subsequent communication advised that discussions were still going on with an announcement to follow.
ZC had committed to sending the national team to Pakistan to become the first full member country to tour since 2009’s gun attack on the Sri Lankan national team.
Pakistan had done everything to convince ZC including offering to take care of the team’s match fees and allowances, but just days before the team’s scheduled departure Zimbabwe could pull the plug on what would have been a lucrative outing for the players who had been promised US$12 500 each as an extra incentive, outside their normal match earnings.
Zimbabwe was scheduled to play three ODIs and two T-20s.
Pakistan is desperate to restore home tours while Zimbabwe is anxious to increase precious game time, so the two had struck a convenient deal. Pakistan would have returned the favour in August through a limited overs series.
But the 2009 gun attacks in Karachi which saw 43 people killed fuelled concern within government and a final decision that would disappoint expectant Pakistanis who have strived for a year to convince Zimbabwe could come today.
The first statement released by ZC yesterday shows government is against the Pakistan tour.
Part of the statement reads: “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 Recreation Commission (SRC), which wrote to ZC saying it had been advised against the tour by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
ZC said they had received a letter from the SRC which reads in part: “We have consulted on the security situation in Pakistan with particular reference to your intended cricket tour of the country and have been advised that it would not be safe for the team to travel to Pakistan at this point in time.”
Zimbabwe national team players have been preparing for the tour for the last four weeks and only two days ago Charles Coventry joined the squad to complete a full complement of those that have been called up.
The Dave Whatmore-coached Zimbabwe side is likely to continue with serious training ahead of their home tour against India in July, whatever happens to the Pakistan series.
ZC sent a security inspection team, which also included managing director Alistair Campbell, to Pakistan last week which was satisfied with the security set up.
Campbell expressed confidence that the tour would go ahead.
Initially Pakistan wanted Zimbabwe to play some of the matches in Karachi but ZC turned down that request preferring to play all the matches in Lahore.
Pakistan is one of the countries that supported ZC when they were faced with the same problem in 2002 when other nations expressed concern over their security in Zimbabwe.