'Rubbish': England accused of 'arrogance' in 'absurd' cricket saga

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Seen here, England's cricketers during a Test match.
England's cancelled tour of Pakistan has sparked furious debate in the cricket world. Pic: Getty

West Indian cricket great Michael Holding has taken a stunning swipe at England for pulling out of their scheduled tour of Pakistan.

England's Ashes tour of Australia later this year had also been in danger of not going ahead until news on Wednesday that the players had reportedly agreed on conditions that will green-light the $200 million series.

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England's cricket board sparked uproar last month after announcing their scheduled October tour of Pakistan had been cancelled because of concerns over the "mental and physical well-being" of their players.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja labelled England's decision "absurd" and said his organisation felt let down by their counterparts.

"It's absurd. We have gone out of our way to accommodate international sides," Raja said.

"I'm extremely disappointed and so are the fans. Right now, we needed England.

"It's a small cricket fraternity that we have. We were expecting England to be a little bit more responsible. We are hurt, but forward we shall move."

It would have been the first tour of Pakistan by an England women's team and the first by their male counterparts since 2005, set to include back-to-back Twenty20s on October 13 and 14 followed by a three-match women's one-day series.

The ECB's lengthy statement also indicated a broader unease at the travelling to the region, as well as referencing bubble fatigue and Twenty20 World Cup preparations.

However, Holding - who recently retired after three decades as a cricket commentator in Britain - panned the move by England and said it reeked of "Western arrogance".

Pictured here, Michael Holding during his time commentating for Sky Sports in Britain.
Michael Holding says England's decision to cancel their tour of Pakistan reeked of arrogance. Pic: Getty

"The ECB statement doesn't wash with me. No substance," Holding said after receiving the Cricket Writers' Club Peter Smith Award, as reported by BBC Sport.

"Nobody wants to come forward and face up to anything because they know what they did was wrong.

"So they put out a statement and hid behind a statement. It just reminds me of the rubbish they did with Black Lives Matter.

"I won't go back into that because I've said enough about that. But what that signal sends to me, is the same Western arrogance.

"I will treat you how I feel like treating you, it doesn't matter what you think, I'll just do what I want."

Fears of a divide in international cricket 

Before England's announcement, New Zealand had also pulled out of their own series in Pakistan, citing a security threat.

PCB chairman Raja warned that the move threatened to start a divide in international cricket and a "West versus rest" mindset.

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.

Holding said Pakistan had every right to feel let down and insisted that England had an obligation to do the right thing by their cricketing rivals.

"Pakistan went to England before vaccines were available for six or seven weeks," said Holding, who moved behind the microphone after his retirement from playing in 1987 and has spoken out over the continued battle against racism and for equality.

"They stayed, they played their cricket, they honoured what England wanted them to honour, to save England's butt, to put it mildly."

When contacted by PA news agency for reaction to Holding's comments, a spokesman for the ECB referred to the statement issued on September 20.

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB... 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."

with AAP

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