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Zimbabwe team arrives in Pakistan, Bvute says no place in the world is safe


Safe arrival … Zimbabwe players take part in a net session Tuesday in Pakistan

19/05/2015 00:00:00
by Agencies
 
Practice ... Zimbabwe players in Pakistan on Tuesday
 
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ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) team head Ozias Bvute said on Tuesday that that no one can guarantee complete security anywhere in the world as anything can happen anywhere even in the safest environment.

“No place in the world is safe,” he told reporters during a press conference at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium in Pakistan.

The Zimbabwe cricket team landed at the Allama Iqbal International Airport Tuesday monring to become the first Full Member nation to tour Pakistan since March 2009.

Zimbabwe will play two T20Is and three ODIs at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore between May 22 and 31 before departing on June 1.

The visitors landed amid extensive security, with thousands of policemen deployed along the 14 kilometre route to their hotel.

The touring group - 16 Zimbabwe players, nine team officials and five board officials - was flanked by a large convoy of police commandos, after they had been received by two provincial ministers along with the top brass of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Bvute said his team had come to Pakistan to express solidarity with country’s cricket that suffered due to tour pull-outs by other international sides in the past.

“For many years, as you know, Zimbabwe was isolated,” Bvute said, referring to ZC’s self-imposed isolation from Test cricket between September 2005 and August 2011.

“We understand the politics of isolation. No one knows better than us what it is like to have international teams refusing to play in your country citing security or other reasons.

“We therefore say isolation is not the right way. In order for brothers to relate to one another we must break the barriers that exist between us and we must interact.”

He said the Zimbabwe team had come to Pakistan with a message of peace and brotherhood and had no political agenda.

“We are here to play cricket and we have no security concerns about playing in Pakistan,” he noted.


All smiles ... Zim head of degelation Ozias Bvute and captain Elton Chigumbura

Zimbabwean captain Elton Chigumbura admitted that his country’s Sports and Recreation Committee had advised against the tour.



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“But in a letter to ZC they said it is our decision whether we want to go to Pakistan or not and our chairman decided we need to go as Pakistan board gave us every possible assurance and we wanted to support them end their isolation.

“It is also important for Zimbabwe cricket to have international series,” said Chigumbura.

Bvute insisted that all the players in the touring squad had come voluntarily and were happy and satisfied so far with the hospitality, love and security provided to them.

He denied reports that said Zimbabwe’s players were hesitant to tour Pakistan, and that they had to sign indemnity forms because the government’s Sports and Recreation Commission had not cleared the trip.

“The position was that our players were offered the opportunity to voluntarily come to Pakistan.

“They accepted the position and that’s why we are here with a full-strength team. We obviously weighed the pros and the cons of what we wanted to achieve.

“And what we wanted to achieve is to come and play cricket against our brothers.”

Pakistan has remained a no-go destination for major international teams since March 3, 2009, when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus while it was en route to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore for the third day of the second Test.

Eight people were killed during the attack - and some players were injured - at Liberty roundabout, located a kilometre and a half from the stadium.

Since then, the PCB has been pushing hard to convince teams to tour Pakistan, who have been forced to play their home matches primarily in the UAE.

Pakistan invited West Indies A in 2013 but the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) refused to send the team and asked PCB to host them in UAE, which did not happen.

Bvute said Zimbabwe understood the problems faced by Pakistan cricket.

“We understand what is like for your people to be deprived of the chance to even see their own players play on home grounds.

“Teams in the past have refused to tour our country for different reasons but cited security and safety concerns. Pakistan is a major cricket nation and they need support and we are ready to do that.”

Chigumbura said Pakistan would be a formidable opposition to beat on their home ground but the Zimbabwean players had come well prepared despite the retirement of their main batsman Brendan Taylor.

“We hope to give them a tough fight as we gained in confidence after the World Cup and conditions in Pakistan should help the batsmen do well,” he added.

Bvute and Chigumbura in Pakistan


 
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