'A welcome step': Fawad hails ECB's announcement for Pakistan tour next year

Published September 29, 2021
This combination of photo shows Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (L) and ECB Chairman Ian Watmore (R). — DawnNewsTV/EspnCricInfo
This combination of photo shows Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry (L) and ECB Chairman Ian Watmore (R). — DawnNewsTV/EspnCricInfo

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday "welcomed" the announcement by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief that the team will tour Pakistan next year, while also praising the international community for supporting Pakistan cricket.

The minister's statement comes in the wake of ECB chief Ian Watmore's remarks, reported by The Daily Mail, wherein he apologised for the team's withdrawal from the Pakistan tour and expressed commitment to visit the country next year.

"We've recommitted to a proper tour, a scheduled tour, of Pakistan next year and will get on with planning that. We will have longer to plan that trip," Watmore was quoted as saying by the publication.

Earlier this month, the ECB pulled out of their scheduled tour of Pakistan three days after New Zealand abandoned the series, citing a "security threat" minutes before the first ODI match was scheduled to start at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium — a move that shocked Pakistan's cricket fraternity and fans.

The men’s team of England was supposed to tour Pakistan after a gap of 16 years, whereas the women’s team was coming here for the first time to play two T20 matches.

Sharing reasons for calling off the tour, the ECB cited concern for the players’ mental and physical well-being. Interestingly, the ECB statement did not mention security as grounds for the cancellation, unlike the New Zealand cricket board.

With the ECB chief now formally apologising for the decision and expressing commitment for revisiting Pakistan next winter, the information minister welcomed the decision in a tweet.

Watmore, while referring to the cancelled tour of Pakistan, said: "I'm very sorry to anyone who feels hurt or let down by our decision, particularly in Pakistan ... the decision the board made was an extremely difficult one and the board made it with the primary consideration being the welfare and mental health of our players and staff."

"Had we decided to go forward with the tour we'd have had to put the proposals to the players, but it didn't reach that," he added.

Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also expressed anger over the ECB's decision to cancel the tour. British publication The Times had quoted the British premier and senior ministers of the Commonwealth Office as saying that the decision "has damaged relations between the UK and the Pakistan government".

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