UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has slammed the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for their decision to call off the upcoming tour to Pakistan.
According to a report published on Wednesday, “[UK] PM Johnson is understood to be angry over the ECB’s decision to cancel the men’s and women’s white-ball tour to Pakistan next month,”
The report added that the prime minister and other high officials within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reckon that the decision of ECB has “damaged relations” between the UK and the Pakistan government.
The decision, which was a major setback for the host country after New Zealand abruptly abandoned the series, has also questioned the tourists’ commitment as Pakistan had toured England when many teams were reluctant to play there in view of the coronavirus situation.
The ECB’s Monday announcement had also prompted the British high commissioner in Pakistan to clear the suspicion regarding the British government involvement in the decision, as he said that the decision had anything to do with the British government or had any political motive behind it.
The report of Wednesday also added that there were consultations between the ECB and officials from No 10, the Foreign Office, and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport before announcing the cancellation of the tour in which the governing body was urged to go ahead as planned.
“The subsequent decision to ignore those pleas and cancel the tour on the grounds of the physical and mental wellbeing of the players has enraged ministers. They believe it has damaged the work being done to improve relations between the UK and Pakistan at a time when they are particularly important,” read the report.
The report further added that the ECB was keen to find a way to carry on with the tour but the intervention from the union that represents England’s centrally contracted players, Team England Player Partnership (TEPP), stopped the tour.
It also highlighted that the TEPP represents only contracted players which would have allowed the ECB to explore the idea of taking a team of county cricketers. “But it is understood this option was not explored,” it read, adding that the ECB took the decision that the short tour to Pakistan “was not the battle it wanted to have with the players’ representatives.”