Stand-in New Zealand captain Tom Latham was the first of the touring Black Caps cricketers to speak up on the drastic abandonment of the Pakistan series, chronicling the events that led to the abrupt cancellation of the tour as well as acknowledging the missed opportunity to be part of a special series.
New Zealand’s white-ball series in Pakistan was called-off minutes before Toss in the opening one-dayer in Rawalpindi after New Zealand Cricket was alerted by its government about an intel involving a credible security threat to the touring team.
Latham, who flew out to Dubai with the rest of the travelling party, said it had been a ‘hectic 24 hours’ after the decision to abandon the tour but the team was in good spirits since.
“The guys dealt with it all slightly differently, but we stayed tight as a group over there and just spent time together, just bouncing off each other, in the 24 hours we had still in Islamabad,” Latham told in an interview with New Zealand Cricket.
“For us to be here and to be safe, the guys were certainly very pleased to get here[Dubai]. Some guys are staying here, some guys are heading home, but it will be nice to get home and see all the families. For them it’s been a little bit stressful as well, in terms of finding out the news. Once we got here I think they were pretty relieved,” he added.
Latham revealed that the team was informed about the tour’s abandonment and their departure out of the country only at Lunch time on match day when they were summoned for an unscheduled team meeting.
“It was like a normal game day. We were leaving at 12:30, and then I got a message on my WhatsApp group that we were having a team meeting at 12 o’clock.Everyone was sort of wondering what was up, and then we got told the news that we would be heading home,” he said.
“It was an interesting 24 hours post that decision, but obviously New Zealand Cricket, the players’ association, [and] everyone on the ground in Pakistan obviously had our players’ safety first and foremost. For them to act so swiftly and to get us out here to Dubai was outstanding. I know the guys were very thankful for that.”
While New Zealand Cricket’s chief David White has stated that his board intend to fulfill their obligations to complete the series at a later stage, the decision to walk out on the tour at the 11th hour has earned New Zealand the ire of Pakistan. It was a crippling blow to cricket in the Asian country trying to get back on its feet after a lengthy period of isolation post the events of 2009.
New Zealand’s decision had the cascading effect of the ECB following suit and withdrawing both their men’s and women’s teams from tours later this year. Pakistan cricketers, current and former, have voiced out their frustration while the PCB itself prepares to knock on the doors of the ICC for mediation.
Latham acknowledged that the pull-out would be very disappointing for the Pakistan fans and admitted it would have been special to have been part of the series.
“To have cricket back in their country was something that they were very proud of,” Latham said.”I remember doing the captain’s run with Babar [Azam, the Pakistan captain] the day before and seeing how happy he was to have international cricket and to have us there.
“He was very excited, and it was a historic moment as well for New Zealand Cricket to be back there, 18 years since they were last there. To be part of that was going to be something special, but obviously things changed, and New Zealand Cricket acted pretty swiftly along with the people on the ground in Pakistan.
“While we were there after the decision the Pakistan authorities were brilliant, they kept us safe, we were safe at the hotel, and we certainly thank them.”