Pakistan cricket chief expects England to tour with decision due Monday

·3-min read
Chief Executive Officer of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Wasim Khan (R) leaves after meeting with Interior Ministery officials in Islamabad on September 17, 2021, after New Zealand postponed a series of one-day international (ODI) cricket matches against Pakistan over security concerns. - GETTY IMAGES
Chief Executive Officer of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Wasim Khan (R) leaves after meeting with Interior Ministery officials in Islamabad on September 17, 2021, after New Zealand postponed a series of one-day international (ODI) cricket matches against Pakistan over security concerns. - GETTY IMAGES

The ECB are set to decide on Monday whether they will cancel their tour of Pakistan as the head of the country’s cricket board insists he fully expects England to fulfill their fixtures next month.

The trip is scheduled to involve both the England men’s and women’s sides, complicating any final decision around the tour after New Zealand withdrew from their men’s tour of Pakistan last week citing security concerns.

A statement is expected from the ECB on Monday and Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, said on Sunday that he still expects England to fulfil their commitment.

“We know what the guidance is, we know from a security perspective there's a clean bill of health,” Khan said. “We certainly believe they should be coming and hope they will be coming.”

The first matches for both the men and women are scheduled to be a T20 double-header on October 13 in Rawalpindi.

In practice, New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from their tour of Pakistan on Friday, the day they were scheduled to play their first one-day international of the series, means that England are unlikely to tour the country for the first time since 2005.

But the delay in the ECB releasing a statement confirming the status of the tour - which was expected over the weekend - indicates a determination from the ECB to explore whether the tour can still go ahead.

While the tour only comprises two men’s T20 internationals, and two women’s T20s and three ODIs, it holds huge symbolic importance for Pakistan. New Zealand’s withdrawal has only heightened the significance of England’s decision, with fears that if England withdraw then other countries - notably Australia, who are due to tour Pakistan next year - will follow.

England are also due to tour Pakistan in the winter of 2022 for a men’s Test series, and if the brief tour this year is cancelled it will place next year’s tour in grave doubt too. Since 2009, when Sri Lanka’s team bus was attacked en route to a Test match in Lahore, Pakistan have been forced to play most of their home matches in the UAE instead.

The chief executive of the New Zealand cricket board, David White, on Sunday said they cancelled the tour after learning of a “specific, credible threat” against their team.

“Everything changed on Friday. The advice changed, the threat level changed and, as a consequence, we took the only responsible course of action possible,” he said.

“Unfortunately, given the advice we’d received, there was no way we could stay in the country.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said NZC “made the right decision” to pull out of the tour but Khan claimed it was “disrespectful in many ways”.

“It sets a very very dangerous precedent when countries are unilaterally making decisions that potentially could have long-term consequences for countries,” he added.

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