Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja Monday lashed out at the ‘western bloc’ after England also cancelled its Pakistan tour citing security concerns in the country.
England’s decision to call off the tour comes days after New Zealand backed out of the cricket series citing a “security alert” from their government just before the start of the first ODI in Rawalpindi on Friday. New Zealand were scheduled to play three ODIs and five T20Is.
“England’s withdrawal disappointed me alot. But, it was quite expected as the western bloc gets united in an attempt to back each other, unfortunately. England withdrawal is unjustified, Pak cricket will prevail,” said the PCB chairman in a video statement after the ECB’s announcement.
“You may take any decision on the pretext of security threat/perception. Earlier, New Zealand stepped out without sharing [with the PCB] about the nature of the threat they were facing. We know about our battle-hardened security agencies and their standards. It was a setback that they [Kiwis] just took an aeroplane and left without sharing any details of threat with our agencies.”
Now, this [England decision] was expected as the western bloc does the same, he said.
“But this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit. We are the best hosts. And when we go there, our players undergo strict quarantines and tolerate their admonishments. And, this holds out to us a lesson. Now, we will only go as far as our interest takes us,” he asserted.
Ramiz urges to improve cricket economy
A visibly angry Ramiz Raja emphasised that the PCB’s interest is non-stop cricket in Pakistan.
“If the cricket fraternity does not take care of each other then there’s no point to it. New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia are already reconsidering options. All of them – England, Australia, New Zealand – are one single bloc. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven’t accepted us as theirs as they look for excuses, including security and mental fatigue, to wriggle out of Pakistan.”
“These teams would not have declined to play Pakistan, if we had a big cricket economy or we had a very strong team,” Ramiz Raja said.
“So, the lesson is that we need to improve and expand our cricket economy so that these countries remain interested in playing us,” he said.
“That is in our interests as well so that our players are paid better and we are respected more. They come to the PSL where they don’t get spooked or fatigued but collectively they have a different mindset altogether toward Pakistan.”
Arguing that England’s decision is not right, Ramiz Raja said neither Britain nor Australia had changed their travel advisory. If there had been a major threat, they would have first changed their travel advisory, he said.
“We expected that England will come to our rescue as it has cultural relationships with Pakistan,” he said, adding he had raised the same point of cultural attachment with the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board. “If the cricket fraternity blocks us, we also will pay you back in your own coin,” he warned.
PCB seeks compensation from New Zealand
As regards the New Zealand withdrawal, Pakistan has initiated formal correspondence with New Zealand seeking compensation for losses relating to the abandonment of the tour, he said.
Ramiz Raja termed the current scenario a good opportunity for the Pakistan team and fans and called upon them to channelise their anger properly by backing Pakistan.
He urged the Pakistan cricketers to take New Zealand and England as their main target, in addition to India when they finally play at the T20 World Cup.
The PCB chairman encouraged the cricketers to get fully focused with all the courage they have and a mindset of being unstoppable and invincible because “you didn’t play a fair game with us and we will avenge that in the ground.”
Ramiz Raja also ruled out the “other options” available, saying steps taken with desperation will do no good. “We will play cricket respectably and invite teams to play on the Pakistani soil with respect,” he said.
Learning lessons from what New Zealand and England did, Pakistan will emerge as a powerful force, he added.