Pakistan vows to look after own interests first after England and NZ tour cancellations

Chairman Raja worried about long-term impact of decisions

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Pakistan cricket board chairman Ramiz Raja has said the South Asian country will now look to put the interest of its team and players first after the back-to-back pullouts by New Zealand and England.

The England board on Monday decided to opt out of the men's and women's tour of Pakistan in October, citing 'increasing concerns' about travelling to the country and mental health of the players.

The decision came just days after New Zealand had abandoned their tour of the country minutes before the first ODI in Rawalpindi following a security alert from their government.

What has irked Pakistan is that New Zealand refused to share details of the security threat, while England were unwilling to play “in restricted Covid environments” when Pakistan had taken a huge risk by travelling to England for a tour in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic and when vaccines were not available.

“I am very disappointed by England's withdrawal but it was expected because this Western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other,” Raja said.

“You can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. But there's a lesson for us. We go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit … from now on, we'll tour only when it serves our interest.”

The former Pakistan batsman feared the long-term impact of the pullouts.

“It can have a domino effect. It can hit the tour by West Indies, and Australia are already reconsidering their tour next year,” Raja said.

“England, Australia, New Zealand - they are part of one bloc. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven't accepted us as theirs.”

Pakistan was supposed to play at least 12 Twenty20s before the World Cup in the UAE. But with the withdrawal of both England and New Zealand, will go into the tournament with just one completed T20 - against the West Indies.

“We have to improve and expand our cricket economy so that these countries remain interested in playing us,” Raja added.

“They come to the Pakistan Super League where they don't get spooked or fatigued but collectively they have a different mindset together towards Pakistan.”

Updated: September 21, 2021, 12:02 PM