ECB's hypocrisy and double-standards could fast lose them friends

Siaasi

Politcal Worker (100+ posts)
Time and again, the board is demanding standards of others which they are nowhere near maintaining themselves.

George Dobell
George Dobell
1 hr ago
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Despite stringent Covid-19 protocols, Pakistan duly went to and completed their tour of England in 2020 AFP/Getty Images
Cast your mind back a few years. It's June 2017. The Champions Trophy has just started in England. Pakistan and India are about to play a match at Edgbaston.

It could have been sold out ten times over.

Then, tragedy struck. A van was deliberately driven into pedestrians on London Bridge (about two miles from the venue for the tournament's final, at The Kia Oval) and the occupants then fled the vehicle stabbing members of the public randomly. Eleven people died, and 48 more were injured.

But the next day, the game in Birmingham - about 110 miles northwest of London - went ahead. Indeed, every game in the tournament went ahead. Despite an obvious increase in security measures - including road blocks hundreds of yards from grounds and armed police at matches - none of the teams went home and every match was completed. At the time, many of us celebrated the defiant spirit that refused to be bowed by threats.

But if it's important that life goes on in Leicester and London, it's surely important it goes on in Lahore and Larkana, too. And what Monday's announcement from the ECB confirming the cancellation of their tour to Pakistan sustained, was a culture of double-standards which appears to view some nations are far less important than others.

Let's be clear: the Foreign Office has not changed their travel advice about visiting Pakistan in light of New Zealand's decision to abandon their own tour. ESPNcricinfo also understands that the advice from the ECB's own security experts (ESI Risk) was unchanged. That is to say, they believed that, with the current protocols in place - the same protocols that allowed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit Pakistan not so long ago - it was safe to travel. It is also understood the British High Commission was satisfied with the plans. This is categorically not a case where security advice has compelled the ECB to cancel.

To be fair to the ECB, their statement doesn't even pretend this is the case. Instead, they cite the anxiety such a trip could provoke in players who have already spent many months living in a controlled environment.

Maybe at first glance that seems reasonable. Certainly, players are jaded by the time in bubbles. And yes, it might be expected individuals would be allowed the opportunity to skip the tour if any aspect of it made them uncomfortable.

But let's remember: this was more city-break than tour. It was scheduled to last, in total, four days. It involved one day of quarantine and two T20Is on consecutive days. It was two days shorter than the quarantine period required for players returning to the UAE to complete the IPL.

Pakistan, it is understood, had also offered to move the matches to Lahore and play them behind closed doors. England could surely have found 14 players who were prepared to tour; plenty more have visited Pakistan to play in the PSL, after all.

"Despite having asked numerous nations to put up with various hardships to ensure they could honour their own broadcast agreements, England appear unwilling or unable to reciprocate when other nations are the ones in need."
Remember this, too: Pakistan answered England's calls for help in 2020. They travelled from a county where Covid had hardly hit, to a nation under siege from the virus. Having been promised they could serve their 10-day quarantine period in The Hyatt (a nice four-star hotel) in Birmingham, they subsequently found themselves in a Travelodge in Derby. They spent about seven weeks in the country in all - a country which, at that time, has no access to vaccines - and, by doing so, ensured English cricket was able to keep the lights on. Put simply, England - and all the England players who were not obliged to take pay-cuts - owe them.

But, over the last 18 months or so, England have now abandoned or cancelled tours to Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Conversations about the Ashes are ongoing. Despite having asked numerous nations to put up with various hardships to ensure they could honour their own broadcast agreements, they appear unwilling or unable to reciprocate when other nations are the ones in need. England are, it seems, all take and very little give.

The IPL may well be relevant. With the Pakistan tour now abandoned, England's players are highly likely to be free to remain at the tournament for the knockout stages. Some will find mention of that tournament cynical and irrelevant. But it is remarkable how often changes to the schedule of international cricket occur which just happen to benefit the IPL. This, after the abandonment of the Manchester Test, is the second time in little more than a week.

But it is, perhaps, the hypocrisy that grates most. Terror threats are not, sadly, especially unusual in the UK. Just before the 2005 Ashes - one of the most celebrated series in modern times - London experienced one of the most serious attacks in living memory. More than 50 people were murdered in a series of incidents around the capital on July 7. Australia played an ODI in the city three days later. Even on Monday, ESPNcricinfo learned that threats had been made against the New Zealand women's team who are due to play an ODI in Leicester on Tuesday. Instead of taking the first flight home, the threat was dismissed as "not credible."

Imagine the reaction had England travelled pretty much anywhere during the pandemic and found themselves confronted by a spectator running on to the pitch. And then remember that the same spectator made it on to the pitch in three successive games in the series between England and India.

On at least one occasion, he made physical contact with a player. As it happens, he was nothing more than an attention-seeking buffoon. But what if he had been carrying a knife? Or a hammer? There is nothing that could have stopped him using it. England's security protocols failed. And they failed consistently.

It's worth reflecting for a moment on how England would have reacted had any of these incident occurred to them while they were on tour. Although there are examples of England sides taking a phlegmatic view - the India tours of 1985 and 2008-09 both spring to mind, while the Bangladesh tour of 2016 might be relevant, too - the evidence of recent times suggests England would have been on the first flight home.

Again and again, the ECB are demanding standards of others which they are nowhere near maintaining themselves. It feels, on this occasion, as if England were looking for reasons to pull out.

There may well be repercussions. Quite apart from the money the PCB have lost here in broadcast revenue, there is also damage to relationships. It is, for example, understood that the PCB will, in the coming weeks, discuss the implications for England's 2022 tour of the country. Put bluntly, there are those involved who feel they can no longer rely on the ECB's commitment. The PCB will therefore discuss cancelling the tour and arranging a replacement who can be relied upon.

To add insult to injury, it is understood that Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, didn't phone Wasim Khan, his counterpart at the PCB, himself. Instead, that uncomfortable task fell to David Mahoney, the Chief Operating Officer. Harrison, it was explained, had taken a holiday.

The ECB may well find itself short of friends the next time it calls for help. This was to have been a symbolically important tour. England have not visited Pakistan since 2005, after all, so this was an opportunity to thank the country for their assistance in 2020 and celebrate the return of normality to a cricket-loving nation which has been starved of the sport. It should have improved relationships.


Instead it has further demonstrated the divide between the cricket worlds have and have-nots. Instead, it has provided a reminder that the richer cricket boards - and the richer cricket players - do not fuller understand (or accept) their wider responsibilities to the game. And, most of all, it has shown the hypocrisy and double-standards which pervade in cricket's most affluent nations.

The ECB has talked a good game on inclusion and diversity in recent months. But here, presented with an opportunity to repay a friend and encourage cricket in a part of the world where it has been missed, they have dropped the ball. And eventually, inclusion is about more than words. It's about putting them into action.

This is a disappointing day for Pakistan, for sure. But a lot of England supporters may be disappointed in the ECB, too.

EnglandEngland tour of Pakistan
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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NEWS
Ramiz Raja rages at cricket's 'Western Bloc' after England back out of tour
Chairman promises to 'avenge' cancellations when Pakistan meet England, NZ at World Cup

ESPNcricinfo staff
11 hrs ago
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Ramiz Raja speaks at a press conference after being unveiled as the new PCB chairman PCB
Ramiz Raja, the PCB chairman, has hit out at cricket's "western bloc", as he copes with the second cancellation of a home series in a matter of days. England's decision to withdraw their men and women's team tours to Pakistan leaves Pakistan's busiest home season in many a year in tatters. In a video message released by the PCB, Ramiz said that though the decision was disappointing, it was also expected, and he drew on a bullish message of self-reliance and regeneration in response.

The PCB has been bristling at the ECB's decision, officials saying it has left them feeling betrayed. Since the pandemic began, Pakistan have twice toured England, as well as New Zealand and West Indies, only to now see England cite general Covid bubble fatigue as a reason for withdrawing from the tour.

"I am severely disappointed in England's withdrawal but it was expected because this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other," Ramiz said. "So you can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing.

"Now, this [England] was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit. And when we go there, we undergo strict quarantines and we tolerate their admonishments, but there is a lesson in this. That is, that from now on we will only go as far as is in our interest.

"Our interest is that cricket will not stop in our country and if the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there's no point to it. New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia who is already reconsidering. This - England, Australia, New Zealand - is all one block. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven't accepted us as theirs."

 
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Kavalier

Chief Minister (5k+ posts)
It is not their fault or bad, I would say it is us Pakistanis who are more loyal to the king then the king himself. We are always ready as immature teens to carry out adventures whereas others think about themselves first. Pakistan visited England at the height of Pandemic, when there were no vaccines, there was little known about the virus and its variants etc. Why? Just to help ECB that they do not lose their revenues after some others cancelled England tour, I guess it was Australia.

Look at India, they are the same people like we, but how they reply back to world in every matter and repay them in the same manner. Indians just cancelled a test for no obvious reasons and England are apologetic. That is the difference, Indians talk to them eyeball to eyeball, and get an appropriate response, whereas, we as a nation are always apologetic, humble and mentally slaves of others, specially the white.
 

AbbuJee

Senator (1k+ posts)
It is not their fault or bad, I would say it is us Pakistanis who are more loyal to the king then the king himself. We are always ready as immature teens to carry out adventures whereas others think about themselves first. Pakistan visited England at the height of Pandemic, when there were no vaccines, there was little known about the virus and its variants etc. Why? Just to help ECB that they do not lose their revenues after some others cancelled England tour, I guess it was Australia.

Look at India, they are the same people like we, but how they reply back to world in every matter and repay them in the same manner. Indians just cancelled a test for no obvious reasons and England are apologetic. That is the difference, Indians talk to them eyeball to eyeball, and get an appropriate response, whereas, we as a nation are always apologetic, humble and mentally slaves of others, specially the white.
India and us are not the same. Their market is huge. Secondly, Hum Niwala Hum Piala is so true in this regard.

The myth that Endians are genius is also not true, I have seen many in my profession, they are just in larger number than Pakistanis but no where better in any regard.

Do you know most telephone scams come from Endia? but since they get cheap labor out of that country they keep an eye shut.
 
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