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England men's and women's tour of Pakistan cancelled by ECB

England's men and women were due to play simultaneous two-match T20 series; the ECB's decision to pull out of their planned October matches in Rawalpindi follows the abandonment of New Zealand's tour to Pakistan

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Sky Sports' James Cole reports as the ECB confirm England's men and women's tour of Pakistan has been cancelled

England's joint men's and women's tour of Pakistan next month has been cancelled due to concerns over "mental and physical well-being", the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

The historic trip, which would have been the first ever by an England women's team and the first by their male counterparts since 2005, was in doubt from the moment New Zealand pulled out of their own series in Pakistan on Friday citing a security threat.

The men's matches, which were intended to act as a warm-up for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, were scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14. England's women were also scheduled to play two T20 matches against Pakistan on the same dates as the men.

Kate Cross, England Women (PA Images)
Image: England's women's team had been set to tour Pakistan for the first time

An ECB statement read: "The ECB Board convened this weekend to discuss these extra England Women's and Men's games in Pakistan and we can confirm that the Board has reluctantly decided to withdraw both teams from the October trip.

"The mental and physical well-being of our players and support staff remains our highest priority and this is even more critical given the times we are currently living in. We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region and believe that going ahead will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments.

"There is the added complexity for our Men's T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021.

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja expressed his disappointment with the decision and vowed Pakistan would use it as motivation to become the best team in the world.

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Pakistan cricket board chairman Ramiz Raja says the ECB's decision to call off England's tour of Pakistan is extremely frustrating

He posted on Twitter: "Disappointed with England, pulling out of their commitment & failing a member of their Cricket fraternity when it needed it most.

"Survive we will inshallah. A wake up call for Pak team to become the best team in the world for teams to line up to play them without making excuses."

Wasim Khan, the Birmingham-born chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, had said on Sunday he hoped and believed the tour would take place as scheduled.

The PCB is confident in its security arrangements and believes the country is safe to host international cricket despite New Zealand's hasty exit.

The ECB statement acknowledged the news would not go down well with opponents who helped rescue England's 2020 summer by travelling in restrictive bubble environments at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We understand that this decision will be a significant disappointment to the PCB, who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country," the statement continued.

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Rob Key says the ECB's decision to call off England's tour of Pakistan is 'sadly not a surprise'

"Their support of English and Welsh cricket over the last two summers has been a huge demonstration of friendship. We are sincerely sorry for the impact this will have on cricket in Pakistan and emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans there for 2022."

New Zealand abruptly abandoned their tour of Pakistan on Friday citing a security alert, in a massive blow to the South Asian country's hopes of staging regular international cricket.

The tour was due to get underway with the first of three one-day internationals in Rawalpindi on Friday but the New Zealand team did not travel to the stadium. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed New Zealand Cricket's decision to end the tour.

New Zealand had practiced in the Pindi Cricket Stadium ahead of their scheduled series against Pakistan (AP)
Image: New Zealand had practised at the Pindi Cricket Stadium ahead of their scheduled series against Pakistan

International teams have largely refused to tour Pakistan since an attack by Islamist militants on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009 that killed six policemen and two civilians, although Sri Lanka were the visitors when Pakistan hosted a first home men's Test for 12 years in 2019.

There are fears that New Zealand's decision to go home will influence more nations, including Australia, who are scheduled to visit in February-March next year, and also appear wary.

A Cricket Australia spokesperson said the organisation was monitoring the situation and would "talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known".

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