‘ECB wants to hide behind a feeble, mealy-mouthed statement’: Atherton slams England board for Pakistan tour withdrawal

  • Atherton called ECB's statement ‘feeble’ and said it wanted to ‘hide behind it’ while not addressing the actual concerns behind their decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour.
Former England captain Michael Atherton(Reuters)
Former England captain Michael Atherton(Reuters)
Published on Sep 25, 2021 07:53 PM IST
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Former England captain Michael Atherton slammed the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for their ‘deafening silence’ on the reasons behind pulling out of the Pakistan tour. England became the second team after New Zealand to withdraw from their respective tours to Pakistan. However, the reasons for both the pull outs were not exactly the same. 

While New Zealand Cricket (NZC) acted on their government's advice after they received a security alert hours before the first ODI in Rawalpindi, ECB did not get any such guidelines from their government authorities. The England board cited the fatigue of the players and security concerns ‘in that region’ while pulling out of the tour. 

“ECB wants the story to disappear. The only thing that has is the chairman, Ian Watmore, silent now for 5 days, one day longer than the tour was due to last,” Atherton tweeted along with the ink to his column in The Times. 

Atherton called ECB's statement ‘feeble’ and said it wanted to ‘hide behind it’ while not addressing the actual concerns.

“The ECB’s silence is deafening. The board assumes it can put out a feeble, mealy-mouthed statement and hide behind it for good, saying nothing more,” Atherton said. 

"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,” ECB had said in their official statement at the time of pulling out of the tour. 

Atherton said ECB should have remembered the commitment of the Pakistan players when they stayed in bio-bubbles for two months last year to complete the entire tour in England, when even crowds were not allowed to enter the stadiums. 

“Pakistan’s cricketers, who spent two months in a biosecure bubble here last summer to help save the game from financial catastrophe, their administrators, who have done so much to get cricket back to that country, and supporters deserve better. The game in this country deserves better,” he said. 

The former opener added that PCB chief Ramiz Raja had indicated that the decision making was not entirely dependent on ECB. 

“The chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Ramiz Raja, revealed this week that his opposite number, Ian Watmore, implied the decision was out of his, Watmore’s, hands. “He appeared as if there were other influencers who really made the call in the end on his behalf,” Ramiz said with some bafflement,” Atherton wrote. 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021