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England players’ body says ECB ‘did not ask’ for its opinion before cancelling Pakistan tours

Karachi: England cricket’s players’ body has claimed that its inputs were not sought by the country’s Board when it decided to call off the tour of Pakistan, a revelation that has come as a “surprise” to the PCB.

New Zealand abandoned and England pulled out of scheduled assignments in Pakistan in quick succession citing security concerns. England also gave players’ mental health as a reason for the withdrawal.

Team England Player Partnership (TEPP), a body formed in 2001 “to look after the needs of professional England cricketers and work closely with the ECB to ensure that their rights are protected”, issued a statement to say that it had no role in the pullout.

“At no stage has the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) ever asked Team England Player Partnership or the teams, men and women, whether the tour should go ahead or whether players were prepared to tour Pakistan,” a TEPP spokesperson was quoted as saying by British media.

“At no stage has Team England Player Partnership informed the ECB that the players would not be touring. The ECB board met last Sunday to debate the tour to Pakistan.

Representational image. Twitter/ @ecb_cricket

Representational image. Twitter/ @ecb_cricket

“That afternoon we were informed the tour had been cancelled. Team England Player Partnership was not asked for our input and we were not involved in the decision to cancel the tour,” the spokesperson added.

This has surprised the Pakistan Cricket Board hierarchy because the ECB clearly gave the impression that it called off the tour taking into account the players mental welfare and well-being.

“Amazing that is what this situation is. Rest assured we will be taking up this matter with the ECB in light of this clarification from the players body,” one board official said.

PCB’s Chairman Ramiz Raja has been on the warpath ever since New Zealand abruptly abandoned its tour and returned home and one day later the ECB announced it was not sending its men’s and Women’s teams for short tours next month.

Raja and the Pakistan World Cup squad members were invited for a chat by Imran Khan earlier this week and the premier had urged the players to play fearless cricket during the World Cup, saying that they should seek revenge with their performance after the cancellation of two major tours.

“Pakistan is a safe country. You should focus on improving your performances… God willing, Pakistan will host international cricket soon,” the Pakistan PM was quoted as saying to the players.

Imran apparently asked the team to perform like “cornered tigers” and also urged captain Babar Azam to lead from the front as Pakistan needed to make a point at the World Cup.

“Ramiz and CEO Wasim Khan, who will go for the ICC meeting, will be taking a hard stance in the board and it has been decided to push other boards to have a clear policy on security issues while finalising bilateral tours, especially with Pakistan,” the source said.

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