English players available for IPL but not for Pakistan tour, asks Michael Atherton

Former captain Michael Atherton said it was strange that England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) canceled the Pakistan tour, citing the welfare of the players, but gave them a window of three months to play the IPL.

In a scathing assessment of the ECB’s decision, Atherton said it was worse than India’s recent withdrawal from the Manchester test.

There are questions in the English cricket fraternity as to how a few English players, who should have played the short white ball streak in Pakistan, can now play for their IPL franchises in the play-offs if needed.

“Player welfare quote is strange as the ECB has essentially washed its hands of its players’ travel and cricket commitments for three months of the year so that they can play in the Indian Premier League.” , Atherton wrote in his column for ‘The Times’.

“If, as an employer, he is so wary of bubbles and cricket fatigue, surely he should be more interested in the availability of players for IPL?” “, He was frank by questioning the decision of the ECB.

“Now, of course, those who play in the tournament will be available for the round of 16. This suits India and England, but not Pakistan, who have no direct stake, their players being still excluded from the competition.

Atherton said it was difficult to understand the reasoning behind the decision.

“This move is worse than England’s withdrawal from South Africa last winter and India’s cancellation of the Manchester Test this month. While these two actions are difficult to justify, they were at least understandable given that Covid had become very close to both teams. “

Atherton said he understands that “the feeling of anger and betrayal in Pakistan is real and understandable” after England withdrew from their away streak for no tangible reason.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cited player concerns rather than safety concerns, which was why New Zealand withdrew their team from the tour after spending more than ‘a week in the country.

Atherton in his column made it clear that the directors and players were wrong to sell a model in Pakistan when they should have shown their gratitude for their magnanimity last year when they toured the UK in in the midst of a raging pandemic.

“England cricket, the governing body and the players, had the chance to do the right thing this week. They had the chance to pay off a debt, defend their honor and side with a cricket nation that has seen challenges that others cannot even begin to consider. Instead, citing a mixed statement, they did the wrong thing, “he wrote.

Atherton felt Pakistan’s worst fears would always come true as “England’s low expectations of responses were duly met” once New Zealand canceled their tour.

The former England captain also believes Australia’s decision to tour Pakistan will be no different.

“Australia’s reputation for doing the right thing is as bad as England’s, so it would be a surprise if they show up in February. Pakistan will face a financial hammer blow, ”he wrote.

Atherton observed that while it was entirely understandable that many players suffered from bubble fatigue during the COVID-19 era, the ECB could always have chosen a team to visit Pakistan.

“Player well-being is a big issue, especially with Covid, and the implication is that distrust of traveling to Pakistan after New Zealand’s withdrawal would exacerbate those concerns. The players were scared.

“The well-being of the players in this regard does not wash away: while many players have spent long periods in restricted environments at Covid, there are many in the English game who have not, and who could have been invited to take a tour if others were not available. “

Atherton didn’t want to believe the ECB couldn’t find 14 willing players

“It was up to the ECB to try to get a team out, any team, once the security arrangements were deemed satisfactory. When a Covid outbreak ruled out England’s team for a day in July, the ECB was happy to play Pakistan with a second / third team. Why not now? “

Atherton understands the anger of the new PCB chairman, Ramiz Raja.

“They don’t expect England to travel, despite the engagement, and have lost all confidence. It’s hard to blame them.

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