England women’s planned tour to Pakistan has been called off. It comes as no surprise, given the present uncertainties in that part of the world. The ECB didn’t want players having to face another anxiety after a year and a half of fighting coronavirus.
This would have been a first tour to Pakistan for the women’s team. They are obviously disappointed by the news. At the same time it reduces Lisa Keightley’s chances of testing out the many candidates for a place in the World Cup squad next spring and the Ashes tour later.
In truth, they would not have been sorely tested, even in the unfamiliar setting of Rawalpindi. Pakistan currently rank seventh, below New Zealand (5th) and West Indies (6th). Tammy Beaumont will have happy memories of scoring 168 not out against Pakistan out of a total of 366-4 at Taunton in 2016. And she clocked up 235 with Lauren Winfield for the first wicket the same year at Worcester.
But any loss of women’s international cricket is hugely disappointing.
This decision has gone down very badly with the Pakistan board. They claim they have done everything possible to provide the England teams with a safe environment.
New Zealand had only recently called their tour off, citing security as their primary concern. The word security does not appear in the ECB’s statement, but we can be sure it was at the forefront of their minds. The PCB feels England has really let them down.
The BBC’s Urdu correspondent, Abid Hussain, calls the decision ‘nothing short of a catastrophe for the PCB’. That is sad bad news for them, for their nation and for for cricket in general.
It is just possible that the ECB may be able to organise a substitute tour, but such flexibility is a rare commodity in these straitened times.