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'We certainly believe they should be coming' - PCB CEO Wasim Khan on England's tours of Pakistan

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Published in Cricket
Sunday, 19 September 2021 06:39

Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, has claimed a "clean bill of health from a security perspective", adding that he expects England - the men, for two T20Is, and the women, for two T20Is and three ODIs - to reach Pakistan on schedule in October and play their games on the due dates.

"England are meeting today to make a decision on whether they will tour Pakistan or not," Wasim said in a virtual press conference today. "We know what the guidance is, we know from a security perspective there's a clean bill of health. We certainly hope England tour. We certainly believe they should be coming and hope they will be coming, based on what the competent authority in Islamabad and the security expert (ESI Security) is saying.

"The same security expert who provided the guidance for the ECB to go to Bangladesh, six weeks after the bomb blast that killed 12 people [in 2016] - so there's a lot of trust put into this security expert who is understood and respected around the world. We certainly hope when the board meets, the ECB will decide to send their team to Pakistan for this short tour."

Wasim was critical of New Zealand's "disrespectful" decision to leave Pakistan because of security concerns, saying that they had left "at the drop of a hat and leaving us to pick up the pieces", but struck a more measured tone when speaking about England.

He pointed out that neither England, nor any of Australia, Canada or the USA - the countries alongside New Zealand that make up the Five Eyes intelligence network that Wasim said had tipped off New Zealand about a perceived threat - had changed their travel advisories to Pakistan in the previous few days. Besides, there was no indication of any dissatisfaction with the security arrangements Pakistan plans to have in place for the visiting England sides.

"The travel advisory is an indicator of threat levels. Most of the Western embassies across the world use the travel advisory as an indicator of where the threat levels are," Wasim said. "The advisory has not changed from the UK government, nor from Australia, Canada and the US. There was no security breach [with the New Zealand tour]; the tour was abandoned because of a perceived threat.

"In terms of what is in place, ultimately the ECB board will make a decision. There are two elements any board looks at. One is the advisory a government has for citizens of their nation going to any country. Secondly, it's around the security provision that is put in place directly for the team. Both of those angles we've been told there's a clean bill of health and there's confidence on both sides. But ultimately, the decision is the ECB board's, and we'll have to wait and see."

The hole New Zealand's withdrawal has left in the schedule for Pakistan has also led the PCB to reach out to other boards, but it's unlikely to lead to anything concrete. "The PCB contacted Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to tour Pakistan, and there was a strong willingness from both to come and play," Wasim said. "Unfortunately, there's very short notice, and the Bangladesh players are dispersed around the country. The Sri Lanka squad are going to Oman fairly soon. So it's not possible in this timeframe to put anything in place for us."

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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