Monday Sep 20, 2021
The England Cricket Board (ECB) on Monday decided to cancel its tour to Pakistan days after New Zealand had pulled its team out at the last minute ahead of its series due to "security" concerns.
Expressing regret, ECB said, "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.
The ECB, however, said the "mental and physical well-being" of its players and support staff remains their highest priority, and this was even more critical given the times "we are currently living in".
England's men and women teams were due to play two Twenty20s in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14. The women's team were also due to play three ODIs in Pakistan on October 17, 19, and 21.
The ECB said it had a "longstanding commitment" to tour Pakistan as part of the Men's Future Tours Programme in 2022, as it had agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games 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 board said in a statement.
"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," the statement added.
The ECB said there was an "added complexity" for its men's T20 squad, as it believes that touring under "these conditions" would not be ideal preparation for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021.
The ECB acknowledged PCB's support over the last two summers, which it termed had 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," it added.
The PCB was expecting the decision as it had scheduled the final of the National T20 Cup on October 13, the day England was to play the first match in Pakistan.
Responding to the development, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja said he was disappointed with England after the country's cricket board decided to back out of a scheduled October series.
"Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment & failing a member of their Cricket fraternity when it needed it most," the PCB chairman said in a tweet.
Not giving up hope, the newly-elected chairman said Pakistan would survive, as he mentioned that this was a wake-up call for the national team to become the best in the world so that other sides would line-up to play with them without making excuses.