WATCH – British government didn’t advise against Pakistan tour on security grounds: UK High Commissioner

The British government didn’t advise England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to abandon its men’s and women’s teams’ tour of Pakistan on the basis of security, the UK’s High Commissioner in Islamabad confirmed on Tuesday (September 22).

England on Monday (September 21) pulled out of the next month’s white-ball tour to Pakistan, just three after New Zealand cancelled their tour moments before the first ODI, citing a security alert from their government.

Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, posted a video on Twitter and said that the ECB decided to cancel the tour on its own.

“This was a decision made by the ECB, which is independent of the British government, based on concerns for player welfare,” Turner can be heard saying in the clip.

“The British High Commission supported the tour, did not advise against it on security grounds, and our travel advice for Pakistan has not changed.”

In what could have been their first visit to Pakistan since 2005, England men’s team was slated to play two T20Is in Rawalpindi on October 13 and October 14. On the other hand, the women’s side was due to play two T20Is and three ODIs in Rawalpindi from October 13 to October 21.

“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,” ECB said in its statement.

Christian Turner stood in solidarity with the Pakistan fans and also promised to “redouble” his efforts to make the T20I series happen in 2022.

“I have been a champion of international cricket’s return to Pakistan and will redouble my efforts in advance of England’s Autumn 2022 tour.

“My thanks to all at the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) who have worked so hard in support of that. I hope that we’ll soon hear the roar of full cricket stadiums again. In the end, cricket will be victorious.”

Amid the development, PCB chief Ramiz Raja has said that England and New Zealand’s decision to not play in Pakistan is a lesson for them and they will now just look after their own interest.

“I am severely disappointed in England’s withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other. So you can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing,” the newly-appointed chairman said in a video posted by PCB on Twitter.

“Now, this England was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit. And when we go there, we undergo strict quarantines and we tolerate their admonishments, but there is a lesson in this. That is, that from now on we will only go as far as is in our interest,” he added.