England pull out of men's and women's tours of Pakistan

ECB says there are 'increasing concerns about travelling to the region'

England's Moeen Ali (L) bats away from Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed during the international Twenty20 cricket match between England and Pakistan at Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester, north-west England, on September 1, 2020. (Photo by Jon Super / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB

The England cricket board has decided to pull out of the October tour of Pakistan, citing concerns about travelling to the country and mental health of the players.

England men and women's teams were scheduled to play two T20 international matches on October 13 and 14 in Rawalpindi, with the women's side set to stay on for a three-match ODI series from October 17-21.

However, after New Zealand abandoned the limited-overs tour of Pakistan following a government alert that warned of a possible attack outside Rawalpindi Stadium, a visit by England looked extremely unlikely.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), in a statement, said: "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. 

"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. 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."

The move is yet another major setback for Pakistan cricket, with PCB chief executive Wasim Khan earlier expressing concerns over the possibility of the country once again becoming a no-go zone for teams.

He had also stated that New Zealand had set "a dangerous precedent" by cancelling the tour without a proper explanation.

Updated: September 20th 2021, 4:02 PM