Ramiz Raja, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman said on Tuesday he felt “used and then binned” after England followed New Zealand’s example as they cancelled a white-ball tour for both their men’s and women’s teams next month.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cited “increasing concerns about travelling to the region” just days after New Zealand also pulled out of the Pakistan tour over security concerns. However, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Christian Turner, confirmed the decision was taken by the ECB on the grounds of player welfare.
Ramiz Raja: It’s The Feeling Of Being Used And Then Binned After England Withdrew From Pakistan Tour
Public reaction to the withdrawal in Pakistan has been furious. Pakistan travelled to England last year at a time when Covid-19 infection rates in Britain were among the highest in the world for a three-match Test and T20 series that saved the ECB millions in television rights deals.
“It’s the feeling of being used and then binned. That’s the feeling I have right now,” Raja told reporters.
“A little bit of hand-holding, a little bit of caring was needed after the New Zealand pull out and we didn’t get that from England which is so frustrating. We’ve been going out of our way to meet the international demands, being such a responsible member of the cricketing fraternity, and in return we get a response from ECB saying the players were spooked by New Zealand’s withdrawal. What does that mean?”
New Zealand officials refused to give details of the security threat that forced them to abruptly cancel their matches.
Christian Turner: Decision To Withdraw From Pakistan Tour Was Made By The ECB Based On Concerns For Player Welfare
A deadly 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore saw Pakistan become a no-go destination for international teams. In between 2012 and 2015, Pakistan hosted England in the UAE, which has staged most of its “home” games since the attack. A rapid improvement in security in recent years has led to the return of international cricket, with Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh touring in the past six years.
“I share the deep sadness of cricket fans that England will not tour Pakistan in October,” Turner said in a video post on Twitter.
“This was a decision made by the ECB, which is independent of the British government, based on concerns for player welfare. The British High Commission supported the tour; did not advise against it on security grounds; and our travel advice for Pakistan has not changed.”
The T20 series was supposed to be part of the preparation for England’s men ahead of the next month’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. But many of their star players would now be free to play in the latter stages of the lucrative second half of Indian Premier League 2021, also being hosted in the UAE, should their sides reach the knockout phase.
“You are quoting fatigue and mental tension and players being spooked and a hour-and-a-half flight from here before a World Cup they are quite happy to be caged in a bubble environment and carry on with the tournament,” added Raja.
“One feels slighted, one feels humiliated because withdrawal doesn’t have an answer.”
Heather Knight recently spoke enthusiastically about the prospect of captaining England Women on their first visit to the country. But on Tuesday she admitted the decision to withdraw had been taken out of her hands.
“The conversation and the communication between the board and PCA is a strong one, and it was a tricky situation with what had gone on with New Zealand,” Knight said after England Women lost to New Zealand in a one-day international.
“Taking it out of our hands is probably the right thing to do. That was done with a view to try and look after the players. Hopefully, sometime in the future we’ll be able to go. I do think it is important for them, particularly in women’s cricket with what’s going on in the region.”
New Zealand pulled out of their Pakistan tour even before play started in the 1st ODI in Rawalpindi. The Kiwis left Islamabad on a charter flight the next night. The Pakistan tour was Black Cap’s first tour to the Asian country since 2003 and it was made possible after receiving clearance from their security agency.
New Zealand was scheduled to play three ODIs in Rawalpindi starting Friday (September 17) before the series shifted to Lahore for a five-match T20I series, but the entire tour now stands unilaterally postponed following the visitors’ expression of concern.