ENGLAND have withdrawn their men’s and women’s teams from series in Pakistan that were due to take place in October.
The men were set to make their first trip to Pakistan since 2005, while the women had never before played there.
On Friday, New Zealand’s men abandoned their tour of Pakistan because of a “specific and credible threat”.
An England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement said: “We know there are increasing concerns about travelling to the region.”
It continued: “We believe that going ahead will add further pressure to a playing group who have already coped with a long period of operating in restricted COVID environments.”
England’s men were using the Pakistan trip as part of their build-up for the T20 World Cup with fixtures on October 13 and 14 in Rawalpindi that were also double-headers with the women. Heather Knight’s team were then due to play one-day internationals on October 17, 19 and 21.
The ECB statement added: “There is the added complexity for our men’s T20 squad. We believe that touring under these conditions will not be ideal preparation for the T20 World Cup, where performing well remains a top priority for 2021. “We understand this decision will be a significant disappointment to (mrmbers of) the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), who have worked tirelessly to host the return of international cricket in their country.”
No international cricket was played in Pakistan for six years following an attack on the Sri Lanka team by gunmen in 2009, with Pakistan holding the majority of their home matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Touring teams began to return in 2015 and Pakistan hosted their first home men’s Test for 12 years when Sri Lanka travelled in 2019.
England players have taken part in Pakistan Super League (PSL) games in Pakistan and the South Africa men’s team toured earlier this year.
The only non-Asian women’s teams Pakistan have ever hosted are the West Indies and the Netherlands. Their last home fixtures were against Bangladesh in the latter part of 2019.
New Zealand’s men were visiting Pakistan for the first time in 18 years for three ODIs in Rawalpindi and five T20s in Lahore.
However, the Black Caps pulled out of the tour on the day of the first ODI after “an escalation in the New Zealand government threat levels for Pakistan”.
England’s men are scheduled to play three Tests in Pakistan at the end of 2022.
The ECB said it wanted to “emphasise an ongoing commitment to our main touring plans in Pakistan for 2022”.
‘ECB puts its players first’
Analysis by Jonathan Agnew, BBC cricket correspondent
There is a clear and interesting difference in England’s stance to that of New Zealand.
Whereas New Zealand withdrew because of a specific security threat, the word ‘security’ doesn’t appear in the ECB statement at all.
Pakistan will be devastated by this second withdrawal within the space of a few days as they try to restore some normality to the game there.
But, with suffocating security and bio-bubbles to come at the T20 World Cup and the Ashes, the ECB has put the welfare of its players first.