Pakistan legend Mushtaq Ahmed says "open-minded" England stars would have toured

Former Pakistan spinner Mushtaq Ahmed believes England's "open-minded" players would happily have toured his country next month after the ECB cancelled the trip.

England's men's side were due to spend just four days in Rawalpindi to play two T20 matches, which would have represented their first visit to Pakistan since 2005.

The women's side were also scheduled to travel for three ODI's and two T20 clashes.

However, earlier this month, New Zealand abandoned their own tour of Pakistan minutes before the start of the first one-day international in Rawalpindi, citing a security alert.

Days later, the ECB reacted to that development by confirming their own withdrawal, citing “increasing concerns about travelling to the region," although it later emerged that England players were not consulted about the decision.

Now Ahmed, who served as England’s spin-bowling coach from 2009-2015, has voiced his understandable frustration.

“I think from my experience, playing in England and also coach of England for six years, I think the guys are very open-minded and they know the circumstances of the world,” said Ahmed, 51.

“I know them — I played with lots of cricketers, I coached them for six years, I played (English) county cricket,” he added.

Ahmed also pointed out that a number of England players had featured in the Pakistan Super League in recent seasons, and that in 2020, when Covid-19 rates were extremely high in the UK, the Green Shirts travelled to England for a three-match Test and T20 series that saved the ECB millions in television rights deals.

"If a team can travel in a corona (virus) situation when the people were dying, and Pakistan went to England and played a series, then they should have acknowledged that and they should respect that,” he added.

In 2009, a deadly attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore saw Pakistan perceived as too dangerous a destination for international teams, so in 2012 and 2015 they hosted England in the UAE, which has become their regular 'home' venue.

Ahmed said that had made it very difficult for the team to perform.

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“I am saying that because heroes become heroes when they play in front of their home crowds and that is when you start believing that you can represent your country — you deserve that platform,” he added.

Ahmed isn't the only former star to speak out, with Michael Atherton accusing the ECB of "betraying Pakistan's generosity."

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