England call off Pakistan tours

·2-min read

England have withdrawn both their men's and women's teams from next month's tour of Pakistan due to concerns over "mental and physical well-being".

The joint-tour would have been the first ever by an England women's team and the first by their male counterparts since 2005. It had been in doubt since New Zealand pulled out of their own series in Pakistan on Friday, the day they were due to start a series of three one-day internationals, citing a security threat.

"We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region," the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Monday, "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.

"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."

Foreign teams stopped touring Pakistan after terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 killing six policemen and two civilians, and injuring several Sri Lankan cricketers,. They resumed in 2019 but England had yet to visit.

Australia, who are scheduled to visit in February-March next year, also appear wary. A Cricket Australia spokesperson said the organisation was monitoring the situation and would "talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known".

The England men and women's teams were each scheduled to play two Twenty20 international matches on October 13 and 14 in Rawalpindi, with the women's side due to stay on for a three-match one-day international series from October 17-21.

The ECB added that the men's team touring under such conditions would not be ideal preparation for the Twenty20 World Cup that begins next month.

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB [Pakistan Cricket Board], who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country," it added.

"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."

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said he was disappointed with the ECB's decision but added that the Pakistan team would "survive".

"Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment and failing a member of their cricket fraternity when it needed it most," Raja wrote on social media.

"A wake up call for Pakistan team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

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