Accentuating the positive has backfired for NZ Cricket

A bomb sniffing dog checks vehicles in Rawalpindi before the ODI between New Zealand and Pakistan...
A bomb sniffing dog checks vehicles in Rawalpindi before the ODI between New Zealand and Pakistan was cancelled. Photo: Getty Images
Bruce has invited you to dinner.

You’re not sure about it. He’s probably going to make fish pie.

You hate fish pie. Who doesn’t.

But he is an enthusiastic host and he hasn’t had anyone over at his place for ages. You don’t have the heart to say no. You accept his offer and hope for the best.

He might branch out with a spag bol, you tell yourself.

The signs are not great. You see his flatmate at the supermarket and he’s stocking up on canned fish. There must be five or six cans of the stuff in his trolley. Oh, dear Lord!

You should do the right thing. Call him up and make an excuse.

‘‘I’ve got to take the thingamabob to the whatchamacallit. Sorry about that Bruce. You weren’t going to cook fish pie, were you?’’

But that is not how the phone call goes. It ends with you telling him you are really looking forward to it. Perhaps it will be OK.

Your girlfriend is excited. She thinks you are taking her somewhere nice. Her expectations plummet when you stop off to pick up a frozen cheesecake.

Mmmm. Cheesecake. Your mood lightens but darkens again when you pull into Bruce’s driveway.

As soon as you leave the comfort of your Hillman Hunter you know you’ve made a

terrible mistake.

The rancid smell escapes the kitchen, wafts down the hall, seeps through the walls and assaults your senses in putrid waves before you can even reach the front door.

What do you do? Well, if you are the Black Caps, you get the hell out and leave behind a big diplomatic mess which could have easily been avoided with a polite no.

They officially abandoned the tour of Pakistan just minutes before the first game was due to get under way on Friday night (NZ time).

The team has fled to Dubai.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said it was not possible to continue with the tour as the security threat had suddenly escalated.

The Pakistan Cricket Board felt the security arrangements were ‘‘foolproof’’ and the Black Caps were not in danger.

We’ll leave those two contradictory statements to hang there without further comment.

But there were obvious red flags. Leaving a bubble of five million to travel to Pakistan where Covid-19 is surging was a risk.

The Taliban’s rise to power in neighbouring Afghanistan presented another worrying development.

And then there is the troubling history of touring teams becoming targets for acts of terrorism.

International tours to Pakistan have been rare since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by gunmen in 2009.

New Zealand had not toured Pakistan since 2003. The previous year it abandoned its test series following a bombing outside its hotel.

It raises the question why New Zealand would agree to tour Pakistan in the first place?

In many ways it was a bold and courageous decision. New Zealand Cricket should be commended for its generosity.

It wanted to do the right thing. It wanted to help promote the game in a part of the world where cricket is adored.

It wanted to help rebuild the reputation of Pakistan cricket.

But in fleeing as the Black Caps have, they have inflicted even further reputational damage on Pakistan.

It is likely the Black Caps’ hasty departure will usher in a series of further tour cancellations.

It could have all been avoided with a polite no.


Afganistan on the point of collapse. NZ had troops in Afganistan. Pakistan a main supporter of the Taliban. Who thought the tour was a good idea?

Sadly, the golden days of shared cross-cultural camaraderie on the sports fields of Pakistan, are over. It was somewhat naïve of Cricket NZ to believe this tour would be plain sailing. Especially given that the political / ideological climate in Pakistan is and has previously been, quite unstable. A result of faith-based threats with extremist ties, both contemporary and historical, that frankly, we should all have been well aware of, given the sad legacy of such events across the years. Despite a well-intentioned idea to get together and play a much-enjoyed game of cricket. It was obviously rather clumsy to abandon the tour at the point they did, better as the article suggests, to extend a polite “No Thank you” at the time of invitation.

You cannot blame NZ Cricket for what has happened. Who do you think get the info about security threats? The NZ government got the warning and decided that they would cancel the tour so told the NZ Cricket officials and they had to cancel. It is the NZ government that is supposed to be embarrassed here but the PM said pointedly that they supported the NZ Cricket decision. All the time the PM knew that she was covering for her own embarrassment in cancelling the tour.

There's a monomaniacal 'spirit of the blitz' aspect to sports tours. Rugby/cricket are not that important.


Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter