SPORT

Pak. tour: Fleming endorses players' pullout

HYDERABAD NOV. 13. The New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, said that the decision of the four cricketers — Scott Styris, Lou Vincent, Ian Butler and Carig McMillan — who had pulled out of the coming Pakistan tour was `final and cannot be reconsidered."

Essentially, the New Zealand Cricket has given the option to the players whether to tour or not to Pakistan in view of the perceived security threat to them. "It is for the New Zealand Board to speak more in detail," was his reply when sought an explanation.

But, later the New Zealand manager Lindsay Crocker, took pains to remind the media that the New Zealand Consulate in Teheran (Iran) received a threat from "unidentified group" early this week and this was duly forwarded to the ICC and to the Pakistan Cricket Board. "In fact a thorough investigation is on from our Ministry of External Affairs by an independent authority. And we are in constant touch with the players here," he said.

Mr Crocker also clarified that the four players had pulled out of the Pakistan tour even before the `threat' was received.

When asked whether the other cricketers were given any deadline to take a final decision, the Kiwi manager replied in the negative. "We are in constant touch with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association. We are keeping them informed of all the latest developments. In all probability, we will have to decide on the final team to tour Pakistan by the end of on-going TVS Cup triangular series," he said.

Mr Lindsay Crocker also refused to entertain any questions on whether the New Zealanders would pull out of the tour itself. "It is too early to say and I am not supposed to speak on that. But, we will continue to monitor on the safety aspects for the tour and react to any developments in the appropriate manner," he added.

On the likely impact of the episode on the match against India on November 15, the Kiwi manager said efforts were on to see that the players didn't get bogged down too much by the developments.