Security around the New Zealand women's national cricket team, nicknamed the White Ferns, has been boosted in Leicester after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) received "a threatening email" relating to the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) board.
The development came a few hours after the ECB on Monday announced the withdrawal of its men's and women's cricket teams from the October trip to Pakistan due to "increasing concerns" about travelling to the region.
Last Friday, minutes before the start of the first ODI in Rawalpindi, the New Zealand men's cricket team had abandoned its first tour of Pakistan in 18 years following a Kiwi government's security alert.
The New Zealand women's cricket team, currently touring England, is scheduled to play England in the third ODI at Leicester later today.
"As has been reported, the ECB have received a threatening email relating to NZC. Although this did not specifically reference the White Ferns it was treated seriously, investigated, and deemed not credible," NZC said in a statement earlier today.
The Kiwi cricket board said that, as a precaution, security around the team has been boosted and it will not be commenting further on the matter.
There has been a massive uproar in Pakistan, social media and the Pakistani diaspora spread all over the world since the Kiwi men's team pulled out of the tour in Rawalpindi last week following a New Zealand government security alert.
The emotions have further been aggravated following England's decision yesterday as it cancelled its teams' tour of Pakistan citing "the mental and physical well-being of players and support staff".
"We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region and believe that going ahead will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments," said the ECB.
Past and present Pakistani cricketers, along with furious fans, are blaming both New Zealand and England for inflicting irreparable damages on the game and image of the country.
However, even though the NZC had said that it will not be revealing the details of the security threat it had received from the government back home and the security advisors on the ground in Pakistan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has said that it was the information received from the 'Five Eyes' intelligence network which had triggered the sudden abandonment of the tour.
The Five Eyes intelligence partnership comprises Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Wellington had joined the multilateral agreement for Signals intelligence (SIGINT) cooperation as it believed that it was not possible for an organisation the size of its Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to collect intelligence on all threats to New Zealand's national security interests.
"The threat was deemed credible before the match, and led to phone calls between NZC and their counterparts at the Pakistan Cricket Board, and Pakistan and New Zealand Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Jacinda Ardern. Within 12 hours of those conversations, the tour was cancelled," reported New Zealand Herald.
The PCB and the Pakistani government had, till the last minute, tried to convince the NZC and Kiwi government that it had made "foolproof security arrangements" for the visiting team, including Rawalpindi Police deploying 4000 personnel for the game.
"The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team," the PCB had said in a statement.
However, neither PCB nor the World Cup-winning Prime Minister of the country could do enough to convince the governments and cricket boards of New Zealand and England.
Still struggling and making desperate efforts to convince and bring major international cricket teams to Pakistan following the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, the current situation in Afghanistan – and Islamabad's backing of the Taliban regime in Kabul – has only dealt another body blow to cricket in Pakistan.