Monday Sep 20, 2021
Former cricketer Shoaib Akhtar said Monday the England Cricket Board's (ECB) decision to cancel its tour to Pakistan was a "writing on the wall", as he lashed out at them for hurting Islamabad's narrative.
"They are all colluders. It was expected that if New Zealand decides to call tour off, England will follow suit," the fast bowler told Geo News, soon after the ECB announced its decision of its team not visiting Pakistan.
"The decision was predetermined as England, Australia, and New Zealand had mutually consulted over it. They wanted to build a narrative against Pakistan and they successfully did that," Akhtar said.
As for "hesitatingly cancelling" the tour, they should first come here and carry out their assessment of the situation and see how things are in Pakistan, Akhtar said.
The former cricketer said when "they want to evacuate their soldiers", then they cannot find a better country to seek help from than Pakistan. "When they cannot find a flight, then PIA becomes the best airline."
The former cricketer noted that it was about time that PCB ran like a corporation because since the board does not have money, no other counterpart would take it seriously.
England would have played this series in Afghanistan against Pakistan had it been an $50-million pound series, Akhtar said, urging the board to stand up on its feet.
"Today Pakistan needed this tour the most, but they managed to single out Pakistan — and they have been successful," he said, stressing the need for PCB to lobby in the ICC.
The ECB had 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.
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.
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.