Pakistan cricket legend Shoaib Akhtar has hit out at New Zealand Cricket (NZC) for threatening to cancel Pakistan’s tour after six Pakistani players tested positive for COVID-19 at their managed isolation facility in Christchurch.
Akhtar warned NZC to “behave” themselves for threatening to cancel the tour, accusing the New Zealand governing body of “treating the Pakistan team like a club team”.
“New Zealand’s comment that if Pakistan team’s SOPs (standard operating procedures) are not in place then they will cancel the tour, is below the belt,” Akhtar said in a video on his YouTube channel.
“I want to give a message to NZC that this is not a club team, it’s Pakistan national cricket team,” said the former cricketer. “We don’t need you. Our cricket has not finished.”
Akhtar went on to say, “You will get money for broadcasting rights. So, you should be indebted to us that we decided to tour your country in such difficult times.”
“You are talking about Pakistan — the greatest country on the planet — so behave yourself and stop giving such statements. Be careful next time. Pakistan team now needs to smash them in T20 series.”
“The PCB should show some toughness,” he remarked.
Akhtar also said, “If I was in their place, I would have given a statement saying that if NZC isn’t happy, we won’t play them and will bring our team back and we won’t play against you for five years.”
Earlier, NZC was appraised that some members of the Pakistan team had violated protocols on the first day of managed isolation. The entire team was given a “final warning” by the government for breaching rules.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health stated that several team members had been seen on CCTV at the facility breaching managed isolation rules despite “clear, consistent and detailed communication of expected behaviors while in the facility”.
In a statement, the ministry said that the team as a whole has been issued a final warning.
The health ministry shared that the 53 members of the squad arrived in Christchurch on November 24 and were tested on day one, with the six cases coming as a result of the tests.
All cases were being moved to quarantine rooms within the facility. Members of the team will be tested a minimum of four times while in managed isolation, the health ministry informed.
While Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has not officially confirmed the names, journalists have shared their pictures which include former captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Abid Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Rohail Nazir, Danish Aziz and Naseem Shah.
According to reports, the players are unhappy in quarantine, especially after the positive cases and the isolation feels like a prison sentence for them.
Players weren’t able to condole with middle-order batsman Khushdil Shah, whose father passed away recently. The process was carried out through phone calls, instead.
Pakistan is set to face the Black Caps in three T20 internationals and two tests, with the first match on December 18.