The third Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh, scheduled to be be played at the Hagley Oval starting March 16, has been cancelled following the terror attack on Friday. The decision to cancel the third Test was taken jointly by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) following the deadly attack which left 50 people dead and over 20 injured.
A statement by NZC said, “Arrangements are being made for the return the Bangladesh team home as soon as possible.”
“A decision has also been made to cancel the two remaining fixtures between the New Zealand Development team and Australia’s U19 women’s team that were due to take place over the weekend at Lincoln’s Bert Sutcliffe Oval.”
New Zealand Cricket’ CEO David White said, “We are shocked and appalled as I am sure all New Zealanders are. We are offering support to all those within the teams affected by the situation and are continuing to take advice from authorities on the ground.”
“I spoke to my counterpart in Bangladesh and we agree it’s inappropriate to play cricket at this time,” White further told TVNZ. “It’s quite unbelievable really. We are shocked.”
“It’s obviously early days in a fairly fluid situation (but) it’s something that we as New Zealanders have to look at as well,” he added. “We are shocked and appalled as I’m sure all New Zealanders are.”
Few members of the Bangladesh cricket team were near the mosque when the attack took place. They were able to escape unhurt, it was confirmed later, with all members of both teams accounted for. Christchurch was placed in a lockdown following the attack.
As per a ESPNCricinfo report, players stayed on the bus when some of them saw signs of the attack. After being initially told to stay inside the bus, they got off and ran through Hagley Park to the ground and then the hotel.
New Zealand Cricket said in a tweet, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch. A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test. Again both teams and support staff groups are safe.”
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch. A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test. Again both teams and support staff groups are safe.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) 15 March 2019
As per reports, the squad, along with the traveling media personnel attended the Friday prayers at the mosque, which is near the Hagley Oval Stadium. “They were on the bus, which was just pulling up to the mosque when the shooting begun,” said Mario Villavarayen, strength and conditioning coach of the Bangladesh cricket team, to Reuters in a message. “They are shaken but good.”
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack
— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) 15 March 2019
ESPNCricinfo’s correspondent tweeted the video of the Bangladesh cricket team members hurrying through the Hagley Park back to safety.
Bangladesh team escaped from a mosque near Hagley Park where there were active shooters. They ran back through Hagley Park back to the Oval. pic.twitter.com/VtkqSrljjV
— Mohammad Isam (@Isam84) 15 March 2019
Even though the players returned unscathed, they were mentally scarred with Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal taking to Twitter to express their shock and asking to pray for their safety. “Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us,” tweeted Rahim.
Alhamdulillah Allah save us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque…we r extremely lucky…never want to see this things happen again….pray for us
— Mushfiqur Rahim (@mushfiqur15) 15 March 2019
New Zealand’s Jimmy Neesham described the act as ‘disgusting’ and was ‘saddened’ with the events unfolding in Christchurch.
For so long I’ve watched world events from afar and naively thought we were somehow different in our little corner of the world, somehow safe. Today is a terrible day. Disgusted and saddened doesn’t begin to describe it.
— Jimmy Neesham (@JimmyNeesh) 15 March 2019
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said in a statement, “Our thoughts & sincere condolences go out to families and friends of those affected by this horrendous incident in Christchurch. Both teams, staff & match officials are safe& ICC fully supports the decision to cancel the Test match.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called it an “unprecedented act of violence”. “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand, they may even be refugees here,” she PM said in a media briefing. Later, she confirmed the casualty count with 40 people dead and over 20 injured in the terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch.
The number was revised to 49 people dead by New Zealand police commissioner Mike Bush with one person in late twenties charged with murder. Two days later, the number was further revised to 50 dead.
Cricket teams have previously abandoned tours because of violent attacks but most had been in South Asia, including Bangladesh which Australia decided against touring in 2015 because of security fears.
Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked by gunmen in Lahore during their tour of Pakistan in 2009. Six members of the team were wounded, while six security personnel and two civilians were killed.
New Zealand abandoned their 1987 tour of Sri Lanka following a bombing near their hotel in Colombo in which more than 100 people were killed. They also abandoned a tour of Pakistan in May 2002 following a suicide bombing outside their hotel in Karachi.
(with inputs from Reuters)