Claiming decision was taken ‘reluctantly,’ ECB says it is cancelling October tours of both the men’s and women’s teams
The England Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday followed New Zealand in announcing that it was “reluctantly” cancelling an upcoming tour of Pakistan, but claimed it would stand by its commitment for a tour in 2022.
Last week, New Zealand abruptly pulled out of a tour of Pakistan, minutes before play was set to commence, citing “security” concerns. While New Zealand has refused to share details of the threat, a report has alleged that it was provided by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In its statement, the ECB did not cite any threats, noting only that the decision was motivated by the mental and physical health of its players.
“The ECB has a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men’s Future Tours Program in 2022,” read 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,” it added.
A meeting of the ECB board over the weekend, it said, had “reluctantly decided to withdraw” both teams from the tour.
“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,” it said. “We know there are increasing concerns about traveling 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,” it said, adding that the ECB did not believed that touring under such conditions would help the men’s team prepare for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board], who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country,” it said. “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 emphasize an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022,” it added.
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja, in a statement posted on Twitter, said he was disappointed with England’s decision to cancel the scheduled October series. “Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most,” he said, adding that Pakistan cricket would continue to survive. “[This is] a wake-up call for the Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses,” he added.