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Ramiz Raja slams ECB for 'making excuses' to call off Pakistan tour

We will exact revenge for this on the playing field, said Raja

AP09_13_2021_000138A PCB chair Ramiz Raja | AP

The England Cricket Board’s decision to call off the tour of Pakistan next month has attracted the ire of many, particularly that of Ramiz Raja, who was recently appointed chair of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Raja said his country felt “used and binned” by the decision, which came days after New Zealand abandoned their tour of Pakistan only minutes ahead of the first ODI between the teams at Rawalpindi.

It was supposed to be England’s first tour of Pakistan since 2005. The men’s team was to play two T20 matches on October 13 and 14, to prepare for the World Cup which would start a week after that. The England women’s team were scheduled to play two T20s and three ODIs after that, but they will not travel either.

The ECB cited the mental wellbeing of players and security concerns in Pakistan as the reasons for pulling out, for which Raja accused them of “failing a member of their cricket fraternity” and “making excuses”.

The ECB had announced the tour last November as a show of gratitude towards the PCB for sending a Test side to the UK during the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Pakistan players had spent two months in the bio-bubble, cushioning the financial blow it would have had on the ECB had the series not gone through.

In a video released by the PCB, Raja said if England and New Zealand do not help Pakistan, it would have a domino effect on future series against those in the “Western bloc”.

“We go out of the way to accommodate them, we honour their wishes… and then when we go visit them, they mistreat our players while in quarantine…. You did not treat us properly, and we will exact revenge for this on the playing field,” said Raja.

The former Pakistan international later told reporters that he does not trust the ECB to keep their word of playing a full men’s tour in 2022, and said they would have a backup plan in place.

“I spoke about this with Ian [Watmore] as well,” said Raja, referring to the chair of the ECB. “I said, what is the guarantee of England coming back and playing here in 2022? Because a month before that tour you can easily quote tiredness, players being spooked again, sick of living in a bubble, or a threat perception that will once again be not shared with us. He clearly had no answer to that. So, we’ll have a backup plan for sure.”

Raja is just a week into his tenure as PCB chair and has already been snubbed by the New Zealand and England boards. The West Indies are expected to tour Pakistan in December and Australia in early 2022, both of which hang in the balance now.

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