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On Pakistan Tour and IPL, Michael Atherton blasts different ECB stances

LONDON: Former captain Michael Atherton says it was strange that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) called off the Pakistan tour citing players’ welfare but allowed them a three-month window to play the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 event.

Atherton claimed it was worse than the recent withdrawal from the Manchester test in a shameless evaluation of the ECB Decision.

There are issues in cricket fraternity in England about how a couple of British players in Pakistan could now play their IPL franchisees in their playoffs if they needed to be playing the short white-ball series in Pakistan!

Atherton stated in his column that the ECB has effectively wiped its hands from the travel and cricketing responsibilities of its players for three months of the year so that they may take part in the Indian Premier League.

Also read: Shahid Afridi recalls England’s visit to Pakistan during the pandemic to decide as the ECB.

Ex-opener Atherton said it was difficult to understand the reasoning behind the decision.

“It is worse than England’s withdrawal last winter from South Africa, and this month’s Manchester test cancellation by India. Although both of those behaviours were difficult to defend, Covid had gotten near to both [the] teams at least intelligible.”

He stated he understood that “in Pakistan, the sentiment of wrath and treason is genuine and comprehensible” when England withdrew out their remote series without a concrete cause, when Atherton performed 115 tests and 54 ODIs for England between 1989 and 2001.

The ECB cited concerns from players rather than security issues, which was the reason for New Zealand to pull their team out of the tour after being in the country for more than a week.

Atherton in his column made it clear that both administrators and players were wrong in selling a dummy to Pakistan when they should have shown gratitude for their magnanimity last year when Pakistan toured the UK in midst of a raging pandemic.

“English cricket, the governing body and players, had a chance to do the right thing this week. They had a chance to repay a debt, uphold their honour and side with a cricketing nation that has undergone challenges others cannot even begin to contemplate. Instead, citing a mealy-mouthed statement, they did the wrong thing,” he wrote.

Also read: Easypaisa Partners with PCB for Upcoming Cricket Series

Atherton felt that Pakistan’s worst fears were always going to come true as “low expectations of England’s responses were duly met” once New Zealand called off their tour.

The former England captain also feels that Australia’s decision to tour Pakistan early next year won’t be any different.

“Australia’s reputation for doing the right thing is as bad as England’s, so it would be a surprise if they front up in February [2022]. Pakistan will be facing a financial hammer blow,” he further wrote.

Atherton observed that while it was completely understandable that a lot of players are suffering from bubble fatigue in Covid-19 times, the ECB could still have picked a team to tour Pakistan.

“Player welfare is an important issue, especially so with Covid, and the implication is that the wariness of travelling to Pakistan after New Zealand’s withdrawal would exacerbate those concerns. The players were spooked.

“Player welfare in this regard does not wash: while many players have spent long periods in Covid-restricted environments, there are many within the English game who have not, and who could have been asked to tour if others were unavailable.”

Atherton didn’t want to believe that the ECB couldn’t find 14 willing players “It was incumbent upon the ECB to try to put out a team, any team, once the security arrangements were deemed satisfactory. When a Covid outbreak ruled out England’s one-day squad in July, the ECB was happy to play Pakistan with a second/third team. Why not now? ”

Atherton understands the anger of new PCB chairman Ramiz Raja.

“They do not expect England to travel, despite the commitment, and have lost any trust and faith in them. It is hard to blame them.”



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