Michael Atherton, former England captain, has been scathing in his assessment of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to call off the men’s and women’s tour of Pakistan citing players’ mental and physical welfare amidst concerns of traveling to the country. He slammed the decision and wondered how ECB allows its players to play in the Indian Premier League (LBW).
He said that there are questions in the England cricket fraternity on how a few national players, who would have had to play the short limited-overs series in Pakistan, can now play for their IPL franchises in the IPL 2021 play-offs if required.
“Citing player welfare is strange when the ECB has essentially washed its hands of its players’ travel and cricketing commitments for three months of the year so that they can play in the Indian Premier League. If, as an employer, it is so wary of bubble and cricket fatigue, surely it should take more interest in the players’ availability for the IPL?” Atherton wrote in his column for ‘The Times’.
“Now, of course, those who are playing in the tournament will be available for the knockout stages. It suits India and England, but not Pakistan, who have no direct stake, their players being barred still from the competition,” he added.
This Decision Is Worse Than England’s Withdrawal From South Africa Last Winter: Michael Atherton
Michael Atherton said that ECB’s decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour was worse than their decision to not tour South Africa last year. He went as far as to say that even India’s decision to not play the Manchester Test match recently wasn’t that bad.
Atherton said it was difficult to understand the reasoning behind the decision.
He said, “This decision is worse than England’s withdrawal from South Africa last winter and India’s cancellation of the Manchester Test this month. While both those actions were hard to justify, they were at least understandable given Covid had come into close proximity to both teams.”
Atherton sympathized with Pakistani players and PCB chief Ramiz Raja’s anger that the “sense of anger and betrayal in Pakistan is real and understandable.”
England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cited concerns from players rather than security issues, which was the reason for New Zealand to pull their team out of the tour after being in the country for more than a week.