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‘A betrayal’ – ECB slammed for decision to pull out of Pakistan tour

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

PCB chair Ramiz Raja has made his dissatisfaction clear with the ECB’s decision to withdraw England’s men’s and women’s sides from a tour of Pakistan, posting a strongly worded statement on Twitter.

The ECB’s decision follows New Zealand’s shock departure from Pakistan last week, with the Blackcaps announcing they were pulling out of the series between the teams after the first ODI had been set to begin. On that occasion, New Zealand Cricket received advice from the New Zealand government of a specific security threat, which was cited as the reason for their withdrawal.

The ECB have pointed to several reasons behind their decision, including adding “further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments”, and their desire to secure “ideal preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup”.

“The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men’s Future Tours Programme in 2022,” the ECB board said in a statement. “Earlier this year, we agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan in October, adding a short women’s tour with double headers alongside the men’s games.

“The ECB Board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England Women’s and Men’s games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the Board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip.

“The mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff remains our highest priority and this is even more critical given the times we are currently living in. We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region and believe that going ahead will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments.

“There is the added complexity for our Men’s T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021.

“We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022.”

The announcement has been met with stringent criticism from the Pakistan, as New Zealand’s was. Raja’s response was the most notable.

“Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment & failing a member of their Cricket fraternity when it needed it most,” he wrote on Twitter. “Survive we will inshallah. A wake up call for Pak team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses.”

But there have been several charges laid against England, with Pakistan twice touring the country in far from ideal circumstances. In 2020, they agreed to tour while the Covid-19 pandemic raged worldwide, while an outbreak inside the England camp wasn’t enough for them to pull out earlier this summer.

BBC Test Match special commentator Aatif Nawaz labelled the move a “betrayal”.

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