New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) has said that a couple of their Pakistan-bound cricketers had received death threats a few weeks prior to their departure. NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills revealed that the threats were received through social media and other channels but were not deemed serious enough at the time.
“A couple of players received death threats a few weeks prior to the tour. It was unusual but they got the threats on social media and through other means. Our experts took some time checking them and concluded that they were not serious in nature,” Mills told Cricbuzz on Sunday when the Black Caps contingent of 34 members, including 21 players, flew to Dubai from Islamabad after abandoning the three-week tour of Pakistan, where they were to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 Internationals.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) reacted sharply stating that it would challenge the decision, taken minutes before the first game on Friday, at the International Cricket Council (ICC) forum but Mills said the Black Caps call was neither hasty nor an overreaction. “I don't think we have overreacted. What we can say we were very impressed with the security in Pakistan. It was safe at the ground, hotel and also during transit to the airport. But we could not have remained there,” the NZCPA boss said.
“Obviously, it has not been an easy time for the players and their families and it is a relief to everyone knowing that they are now safe. We recognise and understand that the decision to leave their country is extremely disappointing for the people of Pakistan. However, player safety has to be our number one priority and we completely support the decision that has been made by New Zealand Cricket (NZC),” the NZCPA said in a statement.
“We have complete confidence in the security check processes we follow with NZC prior to going on any tour and remain comfortable with the decision to go — our players were really looking forward to playing in Pakistan for the first time. However, the security checking doesn't stop on arrival and the continued risk assessments had determined that the situation for our team had changed last Friday and that a decision needed to be made to leave.”
Five Eyes, the joint intelligence wing of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US, had provided the security inputs which was shared by the New Zealand government with the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) following which the series was abandoned by the tourists.
A PCB official reacted curtly to the Five Eyes' security input. “The funny part is the Brits (England) didn't change their travel advisory at all. So it was not probably such a critical threat,” the official told Cricbuzz.