Former England skipper and current commentator Mike Atherton is railing against the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) following their withdrawal of men and women’s Pakistan tours. Notably, ECB’s decision came just a few days after New Zealand abandoned their tour of Pakistan, citing a security threat.
The ECB cited bio-bubble fatigue, physical and mental well-being of their players as the reason behind their decision to not send their men's and women's teams to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Atherton was furious with ECB’s decision to back out of their commitment, especially citing bio-bubble fatigue as the main cause. The 53-year-old Atherton feels that the ECB has forgotten what the Pakistan players went through when they toured England when the pandemic was raging.
In a column penned for The Times UK, Atherton criticized the board’s decision and wrote, “If security advice is the reason for the cancellation, that would be totally understandable, but to cite Covid fatigue, effectively, is to have a short memory of what touring teams, not least Pakistan, went through in England last summer at the height of the pandemic, so helping to save the professional game from financial catastrophe.”
"At the time of Pakistan’s arrival last year, Covid death rates in this country were the third highest in the world, more than 150 times the rate in Pakistan. Still Pakistan came, keeping who knows how many professional cricketers and support staff in their jobs,” he added.
In his column, Atherton also opined that ECB’s player welfare excuse doesn’t hold water since a number of star English cricketers are part of the IPL bio-bubble in the UAE.
"Citing player welfare is strange when the ECB have essentially washed their hands of their players' travel and cricketing commitments for three months of the year.
"If, as an employer, they are so wary of bubble and cricket fatigue, surely they should take more interest in the players' availability for the Indian Premier League? Now, of course, those who are playing in the tournament will be available for the knockout stages. It suits India and England, but not Pakistan, who have no direct stake, their players being still barred from the competition,” Atherton wrote.
Also, Atherton feels what ECB did to PCB was worse than what the BCCI did to them by cancelling the fifth Test of the England vs India series.
"This decision is worse than England’s withdrawal from South Africa last winter and India’s cancellation of the Manchester Test this month. While both those actions were hard to justify, they were at least understandable given Covid had come into close proximity to both teams," Atherton wrote.