LONDON: England Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Ian Whatmore has finally apologised for cancelling the scheduled tour of Pakistan earlier this month.
England was supposed to play two T20Is at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on 13 and 14 October before the tour was abruptly cancelled after a similar decision by New Zealand.
In his first public comments since the ECB angered Pakistan by pulling out of the matches, Chairman Ian Watmore offered an apology for last week’s late withdrawal. He insisted England would commit to a full tour comprising three Tests and 5 one-day internationals next winter.
‘I’m very sorry to anyone who feels hurt or let down by our decision, particularly in Pakistan,’ he said in an interview. ‘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.
Watmore also moved to draw a line under the controversy surrounding the cancelled trip to Pakistan by offering a full apology for the first time and confirming England’s players had not been consulted before the board made their decision.
“The board took the decision based on its own judgments and it didn’t go out to consultation. Had we decided to go forward with the tour we’d have had to put the proposals to the players, but it didn’t reach that,” he said.
“We’ve recommitted to a proper tour, a scheduled tour, of Pakistan next year and will get on with planning that. We will have longer to plan that trip.”
“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.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed anger at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to cancel the tour to Pakistan.
According to reports, the British premier and senior ministers of the Commonwealth Office were quoted as saying that the decision “has damaged relations between the UK and the Pakistan government”.
The report stated that the ECB was willing to continue with the tour but the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) — a unit of the athletes’ union representing England’s central contracted players — intervened, which eventually led to the cancellation of the tour.
A day after the ECB announced to call off the tour, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner had released a video message, insisting the commission did not advise against England cricket’s tour of Pakistan on security grounds.
He had emphasised that the decision to cancel the tour was taken by the ECB, “which is independent of the British government, based on concerns for player welfare”.