'Being used': Pakistan drags Australia into ugly cricket furore

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Ramiz Raja, pictured here talking to the media in Pakistan.
Ramiz Raja has accused Australia of acting in a 'bloc' with New Zealand and England. Image: Getty

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja has accused Australia of acting in a 'bloc' with England and New Zealand over their withdrawals from tours of the country.

Raja is seething after England and New Zealand both announced this week that they had abandoned scheduled tours of the country.

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England abandoned their men's and women's tours of Pakistan in October on Tuesday, acting swiftly after New Zealand's men's side, responding to an escalated security threat, fled Rawalpindi on the day their series was due to start. 

Australia is scheduled to tour Pakistan after this summer's Ashes, marking the Aussies' first series in the nation since 1998.

However the drama of the past week has cast fresh doubt on that trip.

Cricket Australia is currently locked in urgent talks with the ECB regarding an itinerary and biosecurity plan that both parties hope will soothe English players' concerns about quarantine and other issues, and is yet to discuss the Pakistan tour with relevant authorities.

Pakistan, having worked tirelessly to convince players and boards it is safe to tour in recent years, will be understandably worried about the prospect of CA following the lead of its English and New Zealand counterparts.

"If the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there's no point," Raja said on Tuesday.

"England, Australia, New Zealand is all one bloc. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven't accepted us as theirs ... this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other.

"How I wish today that I was still a YouTuber, rather than the chairman of the cricket board, because I would have absolutely taken on New Zealand and England unabashedly. It's the feeling of being used and then binned โ€” that is the feeling that I have right now.

"West Indies could be a little jittery and we know that the Australians will probably do what the New Zealanders and England have done. So there goes our domestic international calendar."

England, who last visited Pakistan in 2005, are scheduled to tour the country in the 2022-23 season.

But Raja, who had a chat with ECB Chairman Ian Whatmore, is taking nothing for granted.

"I said what is the guarantee of England coming back and playing here? Because a month before that tour you can easily quote tiredness, players being spooked again, sick of living in a bubble," he added.

Pakistan were forced to adopt Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their 'home' grounds after an armed attack on Sri Lanka's team bus, including Australian-born coach Trevor Bayliss, in 2009.

But Paine, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson and George Bailey are among the notable cricketers to have played in Pakistan during recent years.

Jacinda Ardern, pictured here speaking to the media in New Zealand.
Jacinda Ardern supported New Zealand's withdrawal from Pakistan. (Photo by Rob Kitchin - Pool/Getty Images)

Pakistan fumes over England and New Zealand withdrawals

England and New Zealand were both heavily condemned in Pakistan for their withdrawals.

New Zealand Cricket called off their first tour of Pakistan in 18 years just as the first one-day international was due to start in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

They had been due to play three ODIs and five Twenty20 internationals on the tour.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Pakistan's leader Imran Khan that the team feared an attack outside the stadium, according to Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad.

In a brief public statement, Ardern said her government supported the cancellation as "player safety has to be paramount".

Pakistan, deeply frustrated by the last-minute withdrawal, has denied any security threats.

Security in the country has improved dramatically over the past few years but militant groups still operate along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan have only hosted South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since the 2009 attacks.

with agencies

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