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Dubai [UAE], September 21 (ANI): Tom Latham, New Zealand's stand-in captain for the now-cancelled Pakistan series, stated that New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) decision to pull out of the tour citing security concerns was "very disappointing" for Pakistan fans.
Latham, who is currently in Dubai, was speaking to New Zealand's in-house media channel and said: "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 were heading home."
"It was an interesting 24 hours post that decision but obviously NZC and the Players Association, everyone on the ground in Pakistan and NZ Cricket obviously had players' safety first and foremost. For them to get us to Dubai in 24 hours was outstanding so the guys were very thankful for that," he added, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Elaborating on how it was disappointing for Pakistan to not have the series, Latham said: "It's naturally very disappointing for them [Pakistan and their fans]. It was something they were very proud of. I remember doing the captain's round with Babar [Azam] the day before and just seeing how happy he was to have international cricket and have us there.
"He was very excited and it was a historic moment 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. NZC acted 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 at the hotel and we certainly need to thank them."
In another blow, England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday announced that they have withdrawn from the Pakistan tour in October. Earlier this year, ECB had agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women's tour with double headers alongside the men's games.
The official statement from the ECB Board stated: "The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022. The ECB Board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England Women's and Men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the Board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip." (ANI)