Cricket legend Shoaib Akhtar has launched an astonishing broadside at Kiwi authorities after they threatened to send the Pakistani team home if they kept flouting COVID rules.
“You are talking about Pakistan – the greatest country on the planet – so behave yourself and stop giving such statement,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.
“Be careful next time. Pakistan team now needs to smash them in T20 series.”
The Pakistani cricket team has sparked outrage in New Zealand after six players tested positive for the coronavirus while in hotel quarantine. Closed-circuit television footage showed some members of the squad broke COVID rules on their first day of managed isolation.
As part of measures to prevent COVID-19 being brought into New Zealand, the Pakistanis are not supposed to socialise, eat or train together outside small ‘bubbles’ while in isolation.
The touring West Indies side also fell foul of the regulations earlier in November and had its training exemption revoked.
“We will be having discussions with the tourists to assist them in understanding the requirements,” NZ Cricket said.
Pakistan Cricket Board boss Wasim Khan has also warned the national squad it must obey the rules or risk the whole team being sent home.
In a WhatsApp voice note to Pakistan players on Thursday, Khan said he had been given a “final warning” by both NZC and the country’s government.
“They have told me straight away that one more breach and they will send the whole team back,” he said in the two-minute message, recorded in Urdu, adding that “it will be embarrassing” if this happens.
Khan also acknowledged “three to four breaches of protocols”.
“They have zero tolerance and they have given us a final warning. I know it’s difficult times for you and it’s not easy.
“You have operated in similar conditions [playing] in England … it’s a matter of the country’s respect and credibility.
“Please observe 14 days, then you will get freedom in New Zealand to go out in restaurants and roam around, but please adhere to full protocols.”
But Akhtar was scathing in his assessment of the Kiwi authorities.
“I want to give a message to New Zealand board that this is not a club team, it’s Pakistan national cricket team,” he said.
‘We don’t need you. Our cricket has not finished.
“You will get the broadcasting rights money. So, you should be indebted to us that we decided to tour your country in such difficult times.”
Two of the Pakistani team’s positive COVID cases have been deemed historical and four are new. All six infected people have been moved into quarantine and the team’s exemption to train while in isolation revoked until an investigation has been completed.
Pakistan is due to play three Twenty20 internationals and two tests from December 18, while a Pakistan ‘A’ tour will also be held concurrently.
NZC said all of the players in the squad had tested negative four times before leaving Lahore.
All 53 members of the travelling party, including players and staff, were tested on arrival on November 24. The positive results are from those tests.