Zimbabwe’s tour of Pakistan remains in limbo

CAPE TOWN: Zimbabwe pulled out of this month’s historic cricket tour to Pakistan and then retracted their decision within 16 minutes in a bizarre turnaround on Thursday.

Zimbabwe Cricket initially released a statement saying that a decision had been reached not to tour on the advice of the country’s supreme sports regulatory authority, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).

The SRC had previously cited concerns over the safety of the touring party.

But after the news release was issued, the statement was withdrawn and Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman Lovemore Banda told Reuters that discussions were still on-going.

“At this time the tour has not been suspended. The executive and board of Zimbabwe Cricket are still in discussions,” he said.

Banda would not put a time frame on when a decision would be made, saying only that it would be announced “as soon as the discussions are finalised”.

Zimbabwe are scheduled to arrive on May 19 and play two Twenty20 internationals on May 22 and 24 and three one-day internationals on May 26, 29 and 31. All matches are to be played in Lahore.

No Test team has visited Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009.

A five-man security delegation from Zimbabwe last week toured Lahore to assess the security arrangements and have briefed their government.

Earlier, Zimbabwe cricket authorities said Thursday they were examining a report on the safety of playing in Pakistan.

Security concerns rose further on Wednesday when gunmen attacked a passenger bus and killed at least 43 people in the southern city of Karachi.

“Zimbabwe Cricket is currently considering a report by its advance team that went to Pakistan last week and returned on Friday,” Lovemore Banda, Zimbabwe Cricket spokesman said.