England’s joint men’s and women’s tour of Pakistan next month has been cancelled due to concerns over “mental and physical well-being”, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.
The historic trip, which would have been the first ever by an England women’s team and the first by their male counterparts since 2005, was in doubt from the moment New Zealand pulled out of their own series in Pakistan on Friday citing a security threat.
Following a meeting of the ECB board the visit to Rawalpindi, which consisted of back-to-back Twenty20s on October 13 and 14 followed by a three-match women’s one-day series, has been shelved.
"We can confirm that the Board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip."
🇵🇰 #PAKvENG 🏴
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 20, 2021
“We can confirm that the board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip,” a statement read.
“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.
“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.”
Wasim Khan, the Birmingham-born chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said on Sunday he hoped and believed the tour would take place as scheduled and there is likely to be dismay at the latest turn of events.
The PCB is confident in its security arrangements and believes the country is safe to host international cricket despite New Zealand’s hasty exit.
The ECB statement acknowledged the news would not go down well with opponents who helped rescue England’s 2020 summer by travelling in restrictive bubble environments at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” it read.
“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.”