Double standard sours our name

Last updated 08:06 27/07/2008

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Cricket

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New Zealand's cricketers need to decide whether they still wish to be part of the international community.

They've been jumping at shadows for the past decade now; ducking at the first sign of unrest, opting out of tours; and now they stand accused of again hiding under their beds when they could be instead rolling up their sleeves.

There is talk that their safety cannot be guaranteed in Pakistan this year but the question remains, when can it ever be? And where?

Eight bomb blasts rocked the Indian city of Bangalore yesterday; seven ripped through Jaipur earlier this year. Sri Lanka's civil war continues and Bangladesh is flourishing as the new hot-bed of terrorist activity.

It was apparently fine that New Zealand arrived in England for this year's winter tour at a time when terrorist attacks were deemed by the Home Office to be "highly likely"; just as it was when Australia continued to play in London as the bombs were going off in 2005.

Pakistan cricket continues to be dealt body-blows by teams who renege on their commitments.

The manner in which they've been treated by some over the past decade is little short of a disgrace. Australia hasn't played any cricket there since 1998 and New Zealand hasn't played a test since 2003. Yet five Asian Cup games - against a range of opponents - have been staged in Karachi in the past month.

Pakistan is missing opportunities to grow its product at home. It is in need of a greater, not lesser, commitment from the cricketing community.

The time has come for New Zealand, Australia and England to accept danger is everywhere and that unless a team can demonstrate (through an ICC-appointed security specialist) a direct and explicit threat, they should be obliged to tour, and exposed to crippling fines and compensation if they don't.

The danger for New Zealand players, marooned in splendid isolation in the middle of an ocean with no shared or disputed borders, is that they can easily fall into the trap of judging world security on their own, relatively mellow, low- risk standards.

There is a temptation to bubble- wrap themselves at home, goggle at the news abroad and refuse to travel to any country that doesn't have English as a first language. It needs to be resisted.

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