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'They haven't accepted us': Pakistan chair slams Australia and cricket's 'western bloc'

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21st September, 2021
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Cricket Australia is yet to debrief with relevant authorities regarding a tour of Pakistan in the aftermath of New Zealand and England abandoning trips.

Australia, England and New Zealand have been accused of acting as a bloc by furious Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja, who says the sport’s fraternity is not taking care of each other.

England have abandoned men’s and women’s tours of Pakistan in October.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) acted swiftly after New Zealand’s men’s side, responding to an escalated security threat, fled Rawalpindi on the day their series was due to start.

Tim Paine’s team is slated to tour Pakistan after this summer’s Ashes, marking Australia’s first series in the nation since 1998, but the past week has cast fresh doubt on that trip.

Cricket Australia (CA), locked in urgent talks with the ECB regarding an itinerary and biosecurity plan that both parties hope will soothe English players’ concerns about quarantine and other issues, is yet to discuss the Pakistan tour with relevant authorities.

Pakistan, having worked tirelessly to convince players and boards it is safe to tour in recent years, will be understandably worried about the prospect of CA following the lead of its English and New Zealand counterparts.

“If the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there’s no point,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Raja said.

“New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit.

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“And Australia, who is already reconsidering.

“England, Australia, New Zealand is all one bloc. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven’t accepted us as theirs … this western bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other.”

Pakistan were forced to adopt Dubai and Abu Dhabi as ‘home’ grounds after an armed attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus, including Australian-born coach Trevor Bayliss, in 2009.

But Paine, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson and George Bailey are among the notable cricketers to have played in Pakistan during recent years.

Australia have, apart from an Ashes tour, not played a single Test on foreign soil since returning home from a 2018 series against Pakistan that was staged in the UAE.

Cricket South Africa heavily criticised Australia for refusing to tour earlier this year, when CA pulled the pin because it was alarmed about an “unacceptable” risk posed by COVID-19.

That abandonment ended Australia’s hopes of qualifying for the world Test championship final.

The ECB’s decision on Tuesday, which reduced some multi-format players’ time away from home in coming months, has raised hopes of a near full-strength squad making themselves available for the Ashes.

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“The mental and physical wellbeing of our players and support staff remains our highest priority,” the ECB said in a statement that detailed its reasoning for abandoning the Pakistan tour.

© AAP

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