“We had neighbours India in our target, now add two more teams”, Ramiz Raja after New Zealand, England pull out

Pakistan on Monday (September 20) copped another major setback as England men’s and women’s teams decided against touring the county for next month’s white-ball series.

ECB’s decision to pull out of the tour came just three days after New Zealand abandoned the limited-overs series in Pakistan moments before the first ODI, citing a security alert from their government.

Amid the development, PCB chief Ramiz Raja has said that the Pakistan team should have New Zealand and England as their main targets at the upcoming T20 World Cup besides arch-rivals India.

“We go in the World Cup now and where we had one team in our target – our neighbours India, they now add two more teams – New Zealand and England. So pick up the strength and develop a mindset that we are not going to lose because you didn’t do right by us with us and we will avenge that in the ground,” the newly-appointed chairman said in a video posted by PCB on Twitter.

Last year, Pakistan travelled to England at a time when COVID-19 infection rate in Britain was among the worst in the world for a three-match Test and T20I series that saved the ECB millions in television rights deals.

No wonder, Ramiz is feeling “used and then binned” by ECB’s decision to cancel the tour.

“It’s the feeling of being used and then binned. That’s the feeling I have right now,” Raja told reporters on Tuesday (September 21).

“A little bit of hand-holding, a little bit of caring was needed after the New Zealand pull out and we didn’t get that from England which is so frustrating.”

“We’ve been going out of our way to meet the international demands, being such a responsible member of the cricketing fraternity, and in return we get a response from ECB saying the players were spooked by New Zealand’s withdrawal. What does that mean?”

The series was considered as part of the preparation for England’s men ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup in UAE and Oman.

But many of their players would now be free to take part in the latter stages of the IPL 2021, also being hosted in the UAE, should their sides reach the play-offs.

“It’s a fantastic dichotomy isn’t it,” added Raja.

“You are quoting fatigue and mental tension and players being spooked and a hour-and-a-half flight from here before a World Cup they are quite happy to be caged in a bubble environment and carry on with the tournament.

“One feels slighted, one feels humiliated because withdrawal doesn’t have an answer.”

ECB’s decision has also garnered criticism from different quarters in UK.

“English cricket, the governing body and players, had a chance to do the right thing this week,” former England Test captain Michael Atherton wrote in The Times.

“They had a chance to repay a debt, uphold their honour and side with a cricketing nation that has undergone the kind of challenges others cannot even begin to contemplate.

“Instead, citing a mealy-mouthed statement, they did the wrong thing.”