Zimbabwe’s scheduled limited-overs tour of Pakistan later this month is set to go ahead despite a warning of “unacceptable risk” from the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association on Tuesday (May 5).
Alastair Campbell, managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket, along with three security experts flew in to Pakistan in the early hours on Wednesday to ascertain the security situation in the country ahead of the team’s visit for two Twenty20 International and three One-Day Internationals from May 19 to June 1.
The delegation will examine the security arrangements that will be put in place at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore, where all the matches are scheduled to take place.
“We are very concerned about the safety of players and any match officials who may be sent to Pakistan, should this tour go ahead,” Tony Irish, the FICA executive chairman, had said in a statement.
“The risk assessment that we have received from FICA’s security consultants is that an international tour to Pakistan remains an unacceptable risk and teams are advised against travelling there at present. Although we are sure that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will do what they can regarding a security plan, our experts advise that the risk is unmanageable.”
Before leaving for Lahore, Campbell said although he was yet to read FICA’s statement, the tour would go ahead as planned. “As far as I know, both boards (Zimbabwe Cricket and the PCB) have confirmed that the tour will go ahead,” the former Zimbabwe captain was quoted as saying. “I cannot comment on the FICA statements as I’m yet to read it and can only respond to it when I have seen it.”
The Campbell-led delegation, consisting of ZC officials and those from Nicholls Steyn and Associates, the South African security agency, is expected to return on Thursday after monitoring the security arrangements.
FICA had also raised concerns over whether the Zimbabwe players had a say in whether they should be touring under the prevailing situation. Earlier, there were reports in the Zimbabwe media about how some of the players expressed apprehension at the possibility of playing under a heavy security blanket.
Major sides have avoided Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven visiting players.
Bangladesh have backed out twice after initially agreeing to tour, citing security fears, though Pakistan have managed to host Afghanistan and Kenya.