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Breaking News: England Tour of Pakistan in jeopardy

by  Neel Ashar  •  Last updated on 2021-09-17 21:39:52

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Following New Zealand's decision to cancel their current tour due to a security threat, the prospects of England going forward with their intended visit to Pakistan in October look to have declined dramatically.


England's men and women sides are scheduled to play two Twenty20 Internationals in Rawalpindi on October 13 and 14, with the ladies staying for a three-match ODI series as well. However, in the aftermath of New Zealand's decision, which came just minutes before the start of their first ODI in Rawalpindi, the ECB has acknowledged that they are reconsidering their plans, with a decision likely in the next "24-48 hours." 


New Zealand Cricket said: "Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the Blackcaps will not continue with the tour."


Given that the NZC and the ECB use the same security experts - ESI Risk - to advise on such topics, England going ahead with the visit would be a significant surprise. "We are aware of New Zealand's decision to cancel the Pakistan trip owing to a security alert," said an ECB spokesperson. "We are coordinating with our security staff on the ground in Pakistan to properly comprehend the situation. The ECB Board will subsequently determine whether or not to proceed with our planned tour during the next 24-48 hours."

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The tour would have been a watershed moment in Pakistan cricket. England has not visited Pakistan since 2005 due to security concerns but consented to this two-match series as a gesture of gratitude for Pakistan's support in staging cricket during the English summer of 2020 while the country was under siege. To ensure that the ECB could stage the series, Pakistan's players had to spend an extended period of time in a bio-bubble. It may be naive to put doubt on England's men's Test tour to Pakistan in late 2022, but the reappearance of security difficulties in the region is sure to have consequences for the series' staging as well.


Any cancellation might jeopardise both teams' preparations for the upcoming T20 World Cup. However, it is possible that the ECB would let their IPL players stay in the event during the knockout stages. The ECB had previously stated that players participating in the T20 World Cup will be required to leave the event early. It also throws England's winter plans into disarray. They've already had their Bangladesh tour cancelled, and they're waiting for confirmation from Cricket Australia before confirming their Ashes intentions.

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