By Al Jazeera
Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) newly appointed chairman has lashed out at the “Western bloc” who he said “used and binned” his country in the wake of New Zealand and England cancelling their tours of the South Asian country.
On Monday, England called off their men’s and women’s teams tours of Pakistan scheduled for October citing “mental and physical well-being” of the players. England’s visit to the South Asian country would have been the first in 16 years.
The announcement came just three days after New Zealand’s abrupt abandonment of their tour minutes before the opening fixture in Rawalpindi on Friday following a “security alert” from their government.
“How I wish today that I was still a YouTuber rather than the chairman of the cricket board, because I would have absolutely taken on New Zealand and England unabashedly,” Raja said at a virtual news conference on Tuesday.
“It’s the feeling of being used and then binned – that is the feeling that I have right now,” the former Pakistan captain said. “I certainly feel that we are up against a Western mindset, a Western bloc.”
Raja pointed out Pakistan’s trips to New Zealand and England last year amid the COVID-19 situation and felt the withdrawals by them would have a domino effect.
“West Indies could be a little jittery and we know that the Australians will probably do what the New Zealanders and England have done. So there goes our domestic international calendar.”
Cricket Australia has said it would “talk with the relevant authorities once more information becomes known” in advance of its scheduled tour early next year.
Shunned by all after the deadly 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan’s “home” matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been played with limited fan support and earned the PCB little in the way of revenue.
Raja felt particularly let down by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“A little bit of hand-holding, a little bit of caring was needed, especially after New Zealand pulled out, and we didn’t get that from ECB,” he said.
“I said what is the guarantee of England coming back and playing here [after speaking to the ECB]? Because a month before that tour you can easily quote tiredness, players being spooked again, sick of living in a bubble.”
According to media reports, the PCB is facing losses of $15m to $25m due to the tour cancellations.
Following England’s announcement, several Pakistani and other players have expressed their disappointment with the decision.