ECB chairman breaks silence on canceling Pakistan tour

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Chairman Ian Watmore has finally spoken to the board’s decision of canceling the Pakistan tour recently, apologising to Pakistanis hurt by it.

These were Watmore’s first public comments after England called off the Pakistan series, inviting anger from the PCB and cricket fans around the globe.

“I’m very sorry to anyone who feels hurt or let down by our decision, particularly in Pakistan,” he said. “The decision the board made was an extremely difficult one and the board made it with the primary consideration being the welfare and mental health of our players and staff.”

He confirmed that the board took the decision to pull out of the series “on its own judgment” and did not consult players before taking it.

Watmore said the ECB had committed to a “proper, rescheduled tour of Pakistan next year”.

“We will get on with planning that. We will have longer to plan that trip,” he stated.

Defending his decision, Watmore said he didn’t know while committing to the tour that the US would evacuate from Afghanistan and that New Zealand would pull out of the series at the last minute.

“I don’t know if you read President Biden’s mind, but I didn’t know he was going to evacuate Afghanistan or that New Zealand would pull out of their tour while effectively warming up on the pitch,” he added. 

Pakistan ‘welcomes’ decision

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry welcomed the ECB’s decision to come to Pakistan for a full tour next year. 

“Announcement of ECB to visit Pakistan next year is a welcome step, I would like to thank the stars of the cricket world, the diplomatic community, media, and cricket lovers around the world for their support for Pakistan cricket. Yet again Pak has emerged as a strong and resilient nation,” he tweeted. 

Earlier, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja had said that the ECB chairman had committed to touring Pakistan next year, after pulling out from the 2021 series. 

He, however, had said Watmore had failed to give him a satisfying response when Raja had asked him whether the situation would change next year as well and if England would opt out of that series too based on excuses of players’ mental wellbeing and security.