The third Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh, the tour’s final match, which was scheduled to begin at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday, 16 March, has been called off, following a shooting at a local mosque on Friday afternoon.
The attack, which reports suggest killed several people, has left members of the Bangladesh team, who had to flee the scene, visibly shaken and disturbed.
New Zealand Cricket issued an official statement shortly after the incident, confirming the Test’s abandonment. “On behalf of NZC, heartfelt condolences to those affected,” David White, the chief executive officer, said. “We’ve cancelled the game. I’ve spoken to my counterpart at Bangladesh cricket – we agree it’s inappropriate to play cricket at this time.”
Entire team got saved from active shooters!!! Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack
— Tamim Iqbal Khan (@TamimOfficial28) March 15, 2019
White further said that the incident has left everybody involved shaken, and necessitates a rethink of the safety of visiting teams. “Both teams are deeply affected,” White said. “As a country, we’ll have to look at [security of visiting teams]. It seemed to be a safe haven. I’m sure all of New Zealand will take a look at their approach.”
According to a New Zealand Herald report, Bangladesh’s players arrived at the mosque, en route to the ground, to offer their Friday prayers, and were about to disembark when shots were heard and people were seen rushing out.
The players, according to the report, saw an individual wounded in front of them. They were instructed to stay put inside the bus, but after several minutes of waiting, they escaped and ran through the nearby Hagley Park to the safety of the ground, where they were locked inside the dressing room.
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) March 15, 2019
Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan, who along with some of the coaching staff had stayed back at the hotel, were instructed to remain there.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board subsequently tweeted confirmation that the players had returned to the safety of their hotel rooms. Mario Villavarayen, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, gave an account of the incident.
“I spoke to one of them shortly after [the incident],” he said. “They didn’t see anything but heard gunshots. They were at the ground [Hagley Oval] and just started running.”
The players have since remained indoors at the hotel. A New Zealand team spokesperson told the Herald that the home team was having an optional training session at Lincoln, situated about 30 minutes away from the Hagley Oval, and had been instructed to remain indoors.
All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city.
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 15, 2019
A planned team meeting at the hotel was cancelled. NZC officials are also believed to be in touch with the Australia Under-19 women’s team, who are also in Christchurch.
The attack has been strongly condemned by the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden, who called it an act of “extreme and unprecedented violence” and “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.
“There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was,” she said. “This is significant, and I can tell you now: this is, and will be, one of New Zealand’s darkest days.
“I would describe it as an unprecedented act of violence, an act that has absolutely no place in New Zealand. This is not who we are.”