Pak vs Eng: Why exactly was the Tour Called Off?

In the past few days, the cancellation of the England tour of Pakistan has been a big topic in the cricket world. Fans and former players have criticized the New Zealand team’s threat and ECB for canceling their tour. Big questions were raised which answers are yet to be given. No one really knows why the tour was canceled. So what is the exact reason the tour called off?

For starters, the bigger question is that the ECB chairman Ian Watmore is yet to make a statement. Since the day it was announced, his teams, men and women, will not be coming to the green shirts’ realms for a short series of two T20 internationals. The series was to be played on consecutive days. It has been five days since everyone anticipates an answer from him. 

His absence has been widely criticized by some English journalists, particularly Peter Oborne and former England captain Mike Atherton. They took a deep dig at him for not giving any official statement as the chairman. Even today, Mike Atherton is still asking questions. He instructed the ECB that they must “end its cowardly silence” over tour cancellation. 

UK Prime Minister Concern

Recently, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his anger and disappointment at the tour cancellation. He stated that such a decision has “damaged relations” between the UK and Pakistan. 

Despite all of these, the reasons have been unclear. Some say it’s the same security threats that New Zealand received. Others say that it was covid issues. So what is it?

Security Threats or COVID-19 Scare?

When the English team announced that they were canceling the tour, many thought that it was the same reason that the New Zealand team pulled out; security threats. Of course, it was later understood that the security threat was not credible, and they were faked. 

England board’s own security experts and the British High Commission were satisfied with the security plans provided by Pakistan. These are the same security protocols that allowed the Cambridge Duke and Duchess to visit the country. And now, the reasoning has been different. 

Mike Atherton is the least happy man in England

The recent reasons that were given were because of “player’s suffering from anxiety” by spending many months in a controlled environment of the covid bubble. This has been the case in the past before and it has indeed made some of the players leave the bubble so that they can focus on their mental health. 

However, they may have forgotten that this was just a four-day trip. The Pakistan team had to spend seven weeks in England in 2020. Not to forget, this took place in a country where the vaccinations were not available amidst the COVID outbreak. England even has a history of security threats and, despite all that, the matches went on. 

As Osman Samiuddin, one of ESPNcricinfo’s correspondents puts it, they toured the world during the pandemic to keep cricket going. In return, cricket showed Pakistan the middle finger.

England Players’ Union were not Consulted 

In the most recent reveal, the players’ union were not consulted by the ECB on the Pakistan tour cancellation. This means that the board had decided entirely on their own. 

According to the Reports, the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) informed the board that England’s players would not be traveling. However, the chairman of TEPP, Richard Bevan, stated that neither the body nor players were involved in making such a decision.

“At no stage did TEPP inform the ECB that the players would not be touring. At no stage has the ECB ever asked TEPP or the teams, men and women, whether the tour should go ahead or whether players were prepared to tour Pakistan. It is 100 percent incorrect to suggest TEPP intervened to say the players would not tour.” – TEPP chairman Richard Bevan

England players were not consulted regarding called off tour vs Pakistan

The TEPP was not informed of the threat that the New Zealand team received before abandoning the tour. Further, there was no team meeting to discuss such a situation. 

Even the pace bowler Mohammad Abbas, who is currently playing County Championship for Hampshire, was surprised that the players were not consulted before such a decision was taken. 

“We played together in PSL for Multan Sultans so they (English cricketers) were happy, they are happy to go to Pakistan. I spoke to him (James Vince), he said “ECB spoke to you for advice, I said ‘no they didn’t get any advice from us’. They took their own decision.”

As said before, neither the ECB chairman Ian Watmore or the chief executive Tom Harrison has yet to make an official statement regarding such an issue. There are still a lot of questions remaining that are yet to be answered. 

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