ISLAMABAD - England Cricket Board’s decision of withdrawing both its men and women cricket teams from their scheduled tours of Pakistan, following abrupt abandoning of Black Caps’ series, continues drawing widespread criticism among the cricket legends, experts and sports buffs.

Recently, the all-times legend from the West Indian Michael Holding slammed the ECB for showing “western arrogance” and terming its decision to cancel Pakistan’s tour as ‘rubbish’. One of the fiercest fast bowlers of his time, Holding said Pakistan toured England during global pandemic in 2020, where they stayed and played the game.

The ECP had an opportunity to repay to a small degree what Pakistan team had did, he said, adding “I’m absolutely sure they wouldn’t have done that to India”. Pakistan cricket suffered due to these hasty decisions and came as set back to the efforts to relaunch the game in this cricket crazy country. “The ECB statement doesn’t wash with me. No substance,” Holding was quoted as saying. 

He further said: “Nobody wants to come forward and face up to anything because they know what they did was wrong. So, they put out a statement and hid behind a statement. It just reminds me of the rubbish they did with Black Lives Matter.”

According to cricket experts, such colonial mindset and white supremacy was allowed to prevail in cricket. Moreover, as a commercial game, Indian enjoys significant influence over the ICC as one of the biggest markets for cricket, possibly swaying its decisions and those of cricket teams, they opined. 

George Dobell, a senior correspondent of ESPNcricinfo, in a feature titled “ECB’s hypocrisy and double-standards could fast lose them friends” said the ECB might well find itself short of friends the next time it called for help. “This was to have been a symbolically important tour. England have not visited Pakistan since 2005, after all, so this was an opportunity to thank the country for their assistance in 2020 and celebrate the return of normality to a cricket-loving nation which has been starved of the sport. It should have improved relationships.”

He further said, “Instead, it has further demonstrated the divide between the cricket world’s haves and have-nots. Instead, it has provided a reminder that the richer cricket boards – and the richer cricket players – do not fully understand (or accept) their wider responsibilities to the game. And, most of all, it has shown the hypocrisy and double-standards which pervade in cricket’s most affluent nations.”

After withdrawal, the ECB in a statement, had acknowledged that the news would not go down well with opponents who helped rescue England’s 2020 summer by travelling in restrictive bubble environments at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. In the latest developments, ECB also announced last week that chairman Ian Watmore was stepping down with immediate effect, following criticism of the decision to cancel a tour of Pakistan.

Former England captain David Gower also criticized ECB, for their decision to withdraw from Pakistan tour without any justifiable cause. Gower said he did not see any logic in this to cancel the tour, days after the Kiwis decided to abandon series minutes before the first ODI was scheduled to take place. PCB Chairman Rameez Raja also expressed his disappointment on the cancellation of tours and sensed formation of a bloc, which did not augur well for the countries like Pakistan.