England have officially pulled out of their men’s and women’s tour to Pakistan scheduled in October, the ECB confirmed on Monday (September 20).
This comes just three days after New Zealand abandoned their limited-overs tour of Pakistan in the 11th hour, citing security concerns.
“Earlier this year, we 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,” an official ECB statement said.
“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.”
As reported by Cricbuzz earlier, doubts over the tour began to crop up following New Zealand’s decision. After a board meeting during the weekend, ECB had to come to the conclusion of not touring Pakistan, prioritising the players and support staff’s physical and mental well-being which is under a lot of stress in times of covid and bio-bubble environments on tours.
“The mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff remains our 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 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 board also felt the tour would not be the most ideal preparation for the men’s T20 World Cup, that will get underway from October 14 in UAE and Oman.
“There is the added complexity for our 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.
The ECB recognised PCB’s efforts in regaining normalcy as far as hosting high-profile international cricket in the country is concerned, and offered their sincere apologies for their tough decision. They also re-affirmed their commitment to touring there in 2022.
“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. Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has 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.”