Saturday Sep 25, 2021
KARACHI: Since the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) pulled out of the Pakistan tour, questions have been asked from all sides as to who advised the board to cancel the visit.
On September 20, the ECB had announced to cancel its tour to Pakistan days after New Zealand had pulled out its team at the last minute ahead of its series due to "security" concerns.
The ECB had at that time 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".
Former English cricketers, commentators and journalists have all criticised the ECB for cancelling the October tour when there were no justifiable excuses to do so.
ECB chairman Ian Watmore and chief executive Tom Harrison have not spoken publicly about the matter.
Watmore, however, had shared with his Pakistani counterpart Ramiz Raja that the decision to call off the tour was apparently not in his hands and there were other influencers as well.
When the English cricket team cancelled its scheduled tour of Pakistan, the UK government immediately distanced itself from the decision and declared it an independent decision of the ECB.
British High Commissioner in Pakistan Christian Turner had said in a statement that his government was not opposed to the visit. The UK authorities were also not pleased with the ECB over the move and reportedly expressed disappointment with the board.
The ministers were of the view that the cancellation has soured ties with Pakistan.
Then, it was also said that the board took the decision due to the pressure of the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP). But now the players’ union has also denied their involvement, saying they were not taken on board.
“The discussion did not come to a level where the issue of going or not going was discussed,” it said.
After refusal of both the government and the players, the question is, on whose advise did the ECB take the decision? Did the board decide itself that the players would not be willing to go and a problem could arise?
It is important to note that the British government and security experts did not change their advice, implying there was no security issue in travelling to Pakistan.
Then what happened and who influenced the ECB in taking the extreme step if players and the British government were not opposed to it.
The answer can only be given by Ian Watmore or Tom Harrison who are currently missing from the scene.
However, this decision has proved that the ECB forgot the favours Pakistani cricketers gave to keep the England stadiums alive in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak.