Covers sport across NZME's print, digital and radio brands.

Cricket: Could Kiwis return to play in Pakistan?

Brendon McCullum is one of five New Zealanders set to play in the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 competition. Photo / Getty Images.
Brendon McCullum is one of five New Zealanders set to play in the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 competition. Photo / Getty Images.

Four former Black Caps are in contention to be the first New Zealanders in more than 13 years to play a top level cricket match in Pakistan.

Brendon McCullum, James Franklin and Grant Elliott (Lahore Qalandars) and Nathan McCullum (Quetta Gladiators) will play in the five-franchise Pakistan Super League Twenty20 competition starting today.

Twenty-three of the 24 tournament matches will be split between Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, but Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium - named after the late Libyan dictator following his speech supporting Pakistan's right to nuclear weapons in 1974 - has been approved to host the final.

Pakistan last hosted a test in 2009 when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus. Zimbabwe played one-day and Twenty20 internationals at Lahore in 2015.

New Zealand last visited Pakistan in December 2003 for an ODI series. Their last test was at Lahore in May 2002, before a bomb blast outside their Karachi hotel curtailed any chance of a second match.

PSL chairman Najam Sethi briefed participants about security.

"The government has made a huge investment in securing the city and we will provide foolproof security to players who travel for the final.

"Additionally, internationally reputed security consultants will travel to Dubai in the coming days to allay the doubts and fears of the players."

His claims were endorsed by former Pakistan captain, Lahore resident and tournament ambassador Ramiz Raja.

"The perceptions about the place might be muddled, but I can assure you that the players who travel will be making a priceless contribution to Pakistan cricket. Once you taste the flavour of cricket in the country you will realise how welcoming the crowds are."

New Zealand Cricket Players' Association boss Heath Mills said none of the players' contracts compelled them to go to Lahore for the final.

"FICA [the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations] received independent security advice which recommended that no player travel to play in Pakistan. That advice was sent to all players, and they can make individual choices from there."

Former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent visited Lahore's national academy as Hong Kong's batting coach in February 2012, prior to his match-fixing ban.

Despite being a survivor of the 2002 bombing, he advocated Pakistan's return as an international host.

"We were treated like royalty, right from immigration to the hotel," Vincent said at the time.

"Safety is still a big aspect of operating there. Road blocks and checkpoints are everywhere."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 31 May 2017 00:45:13 Processing Time: 535ms