Michael Atherton has questioned the England Cricket Board on their silence on the decision to withdraw from the scheduled tour to Pakistan in October. England was scheduled to travel to Rawalpindi in October for two Twenty20 Internationals, in what was supposed to be their first visit to Pakistan since 2005.
Almost a week after the England Cricket Board (ECB) announced their shock withdrawal from a scheduled tour to Pakistan in October, the reactions to the decision from the cricket fraternity are still coming on. The English cricket governing body has faced scathing criticism from various quarters across the globe for the move with a lack of clarity on why the decision was taken.
Michael Atherton: ECB’s Silence Is Deafening
One of the fiercest critics of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is Michael Atherton. The former England captain has accused the board of trying to hide behind a ‘feeble, mealy-mouthed’ statement and asked them to break their silence on the issue.
In his column, Michael Atherton wrote “The ECB’s silence is deafening. The board assumes it can put out a feeble, mealy-mouthed statement and hide behind it for good, saying nothing more. 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.”
After the ECB announced its decision, its counterparts were furious, especially PCB chairman Ramiz Raja. Ramiz Raja was disappointed as England failed to return the favour they did to them in 2020 by touring the nation under challenging circumstances arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cited “increasing concerns about travelling to the Pakistan region” just days after New Zealand also pulled out of the Pakistan tour over security concerns. The England and Pakistan T20I bilateral series was supposed to be part of the preparation ahead of the next month’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
New Zealand pulled out of their Pakistan tour even before play started in the 1st ODI in Rawalpindi. For years, Pakistan has played most of their home matches in the UAE, which has become a home away from the original home for its players after international teams refused to travel to the country following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.
Michael Atherton: Pakistan Deserved Better For Touring England Which Was At Peak Of Covid-19
He further slammed ECB for letting down a board who toured the country at the peak of the COVID-19 last summer which helped English cricket to remain financially sustainable in the pandemic.
“Pakistan’s cricketers, who spent two months in a biosecure bubble here last summer to help save the game from financial catastrophe, their administrators, who have done so much to get cricket back to that country, and supporters deserve better. The game in this country deserves better,” said Michael Atherton.
He further questioned who made the final decision to quit the Pakistan tour referring to a statement made by PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who implied that it was a move out of the ECB’s hands.
“The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Ramiz Raja, revealed this week that his opposite number, Ian Watmore, implied the decision was out of his, Watmore’s, hands.”
“He appeared as if there were other influencers who really made the call in the end on his behalf,” wrote Atherton.
The cricketer-turned broadcaster blamed the ECB for wanting the story to disappear instead of answering questions. England’s men’s side was scheduled to play a two-match T20 series in Pakistan while the women’s team was supposed to play 2 WT20I’s and 3 WODI’s. ECB’s decision came just days after New Zealand cancelled their series in the country just minutes before the first game citing a ‘security threat.’