Kane Williamson: Hope New Zealand pulling out doesn't have a lasting impact on Pakistan's cricket

Many feel that New Zealand's decision to pull out of its tour of Pakistan could influence the international teams intending to travel to Pakistan in the future. Kane Williamson hopes that is not the case.

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is currently in Dubai for the Indian Premier League. - GETTY IMAGES

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hopes New Zealand's decision to pull out of its tour of Pakistan doesn't have a "lasting impact" on the game in Pakistan.

Even though Williamson did not travel for the series and will be leading Sunrisers Hyderabad in the second leg of the Indian Premier League, Williamson kept an eye on the development.

“I don’t know the details of yesterday. It was a sudden call, but obviously, a real shame. Cricket in Pakistan is an amazing thing and so well supported. There is so much passion there and I think the guys will be gutted to not have started and playing the whole series. But I am not sure of the details since I am in Dubai for the IPL. I will find out a bit more about it over the next few days,” Williamson told Sportstar on Saturday.

Hours before the first ODI in Rawalpindi on Friday, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) decided to abandon the limited-overs tour after it received a security alert from its government. NZC stated that the safety of the players was paramount, and many felt that its decision could influence the international teams intending to travel to Pakistan in the future.

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Williamson hopes that it is not the case.

“I certainly hope not. You want to be playing the game in all countries. It is an international game and there is so much passion for it around the world, particularly in Pakistan. It was really exciting to see the series go back there and I know our team was looking forward to it. Players’ safety is paramount and when you hear messages going through from the government, it is certainly above the players’ heads,” Williamson said.

“They were obviously over there, ready to go to the ground. It is a sudden thing that happened. I certainly hope there is no lasting impact from it because it is a special place for cricket to be and there have been a lot of strides forward to see cricket go back into Pakistan and play there safely. We have seen that happen on a number of occasions, so hopefully, there is plenty more cricket there to come.”

This was the third time a touring international team left Pakistan fearing for its security. In May 2002, hours before the second Test in Karachi, a bomb exploded outside New Zealand’s team hotel. The New Zealand players were unhurt, but the blast killed 12 people, forcing the team to leave the country immediately. In 2009, the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked in Lahore when it was travelling to the Gaddafi Stadium for the third day’s play of the second Test. Six members of the Sri Lankan team were injured, while six policemen and two civilians were killed.

International teams refused to travel to Pakistan for nearly a decade, forcing the country’s cricket board to host bilateral series at a neutral venue in the United Arab Emirates. However, over the last couple of years, international teams - including South Africa, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka - toured Pakistan, and even the Pakistan Super League was conducted at home with the participation of overseas players.

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