LAHORE: A Zimbabwe cricket team official on tour in Pakistan with his national team said players had volunteered for the 13-day tour.
Ozias Bvute, head of the delegation and a former Zimbabwe Cricket chief executive, on Tuesday said, “Our players were offered the opportunity to voluntarily come to Pakistan. They accepted, and that’s why we have a full-strength team.”
“We are here to support Pakistan,” said Bvute, adding: “We are here to play cricket and we will play cricket. We are satisfied with the security arrangements and all players have come here voluntarily.”
Bvute said Zimbabwe Cricket weighed “the pros and the cons [of the tour] … and what we wanted to achieve is to come and play against our brothers”.
Zimbabwe’s captain Elton Chigumbura was also present at the press conference. “I am very pleased on coming here. The Government of Pakistan and the Pakistan Cricket Board has put in place brilliant arrangements for the tour,” he said.
When asked whether bowling or batting was his team’s strength, Chigumbura confidently replied: “Everything.”
The Zimbabwe team is set to play its first Twenty20 match against Pakistan in Lahore on May 22.
The Zimbabwe team’s arrival marks the first time a Test-level team has toured Pakistan since seven Sri Lankan cricketers were wounded during a 2009 attack by militants in Lahore.
Since the attack on the Sri Lankans, Pakistan have staged ‘home’ matches in the United Arab Emirates.
The PCB said it has “foolproof” security involving thousands of police to protect Zimbabwe as they shuttle between their five-star hotel and the Gaddafi Stadium.
The area around the venue will be cordoned off, with various security checkpoints for fans, and paramilitaries will watch the area around the clock with constant surveillance from rooftops and helicopters.
“It is our first step towards the goal of reviving international cricket and we will leave nothing to chance to make this tour safe and successful,” PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan said.
Forced to host home games in neutral venues like the United Arab Emirates, the PCB estimates it has lost $120 million in TV rights and extra overheads.