Atherton, Khawaja question England’s move to cancel Pakistan tour

Sports Desk

25th Sep, 2021. 02:41 pm
Atherton, Khawaja question England’s move to cancel Pakistan tour

Former England opening batter and now renowned commentator Mike Atherton has lambasted the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for the cancellation of the Pakistan tour.

On September 19, the ECB issued a statement where they cited the ‘players mental and physical state’ as the primary reason for not touring the country for two T20I matches in October.

In a column for The Time, Atherton slammed England cricket’s hierarchy, in particular chairman Ian Watmore.

“The board [ECB] assumes it can put out a feeble, mealy-mouthed statement and hide behind it for good, saying nothing more,” he wrote. “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.

“Pulling out of a commitment to tour, especially to Pakistan given their recent history of playing cricket in exile, is a serious business and demands a serious response. The ECB wants the story to disappear but the only thing that has disappeared has been its chairman. Watmore has been silent for five days since the cancellation was announced — one day longer than the proposed tour to Pakistan was due to last. Why exactly was the tour called off? Cricket supporters in Pakistan and England deserve to know.”

Easy to say no to Pakistan: Khawaja

Australia’s left-handed batter Usman Khawaja becomes the most high-profile current international cricketer to highlight the double standards while dealing with Pakistan cricket.

The 34-year-old, who recently represented Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021, while talking to ESPNCricinfo, stated that no other board would do a similar kind of thing to India because of financial reasons.

“I feel it’s very easy for players and organisations to say no to Pakistan, because it’s Pakistan,” said Khawaja. “I think the same thing would apply too if it were Bangladesh. But nobody would say no to India if they’re in the same situation. Money talks, we all know that, and that’s probably a big part of it. They keep proving time and time again through their tournaments that they’re a safe place to play cricket. I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t go back.

“There’s a lot of security. Heavy, heavy security. I’ve heard nothing but reports about people feeling safe. Even talking to the guys during the PSL about what it’s like … they would say the same thing to me ‘like 10 years ago, maybe not, but now 100 per cent.”

Nazar wants ‘bank guarantee’ before future tours

Former all-rounder Mudassar Nazar also criticised the ECB for their decision and believes that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) should ask for a bank guarantee before touring any country in the future.

“We [Pakistan] toured a Covid-ridden England and helped ECB avoid major financial loss,” he said while talking to Cricket Pakistan. “The team was also made to stay in a third-class hotel but we went through all that just to help England cricket. Instead of helping us in our time of need, an ungrateful England backed out of Pakistan tour. Next time we should make sure that we have a bank guarantee before booking an England tour.

“Everyone is surprised with England’s decision to back out of Pakistan tour. Even the British media is unhappy. We should use this opportunity to make a strong case against England at the ICC level. PCB should also seek support from the Asian block in this regard. Countries like Bangladesh need to stand with Pakistan because this can also happen to them in the future. New Zealand and England are part of the conspiracy to isolate Pakistan cricket.”

We are disappointed: Abbas

Pakistan’s Test fast-bowler Mohammad Abbas stated that he was left ‘disappointed’ following the development.

The right-arm pacer, who is currently playing for County side Hampshire, was quoted in a report by AFP where he expressed his feelings by stating that: “Obviously when you give 100 per cent, you need to get back the same things. It hurts us. We are sacrificing lots of things, so it’s strange for us. We are disappointed.”

Players not behind pullout: Bevan

England’s players’ union has refuted reports that they were behind the decision to cancel Pakistan tour.

Earlier media reports suggested that the players were reluctant to travel to the South Asian country after an untimely departure of New Zealand following a security threat.

However, Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) chair Richard Bevan, while talking to ESPNCricinfo, stated that the players had no role in the tour cancellation.

“At no stage did TEPP inform the ECB that the players would not be touring,” said Bevan. “At no stage has the ECB ever asked TEPP or the teams, men and women, whether the tour should go ahead or whether players were prepared to tour Pakistan. It is 100 per cent incorrect to suggest TEPP intervened to say the players would not tour.”

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