After NZ shock, England withdraw from Pakistan tour

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Raja terms decision ‘disappointing’

London

The England Cricket Board has announced that it is withdrawing both its men’s and women’s teams from their tour of Pakistan scheduled for next month.

“We can confirm that the Board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip,” a tweet by the ECB said on Monday evening.

The decision comes three days after New Zealand abandoned their tour of Pakistan citing a “security threat”, minutes before the first ODI match was scheduled to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium — a move that shocked Pakistani fans and officials.

In a statement, the ECB said it had “a longstanding commitment to tour Pakistan as part of the Men’s Future Tours Programme in 2022”.

It said England had agreed to play two additional T20 World Cup warm-up games in Pakistan 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,” it added.

The board emphasised that players’ and staff’s mental and physical well-being remained its highest priority “and this is even more critical given the times we are currently living in”.

“We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region,” it said while referring to Pakistan, adding that going ahead with the tour “will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments”.

According to the press release, there was an “added complexity” for England Men’s T20 squad. “We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021,” it explained.

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