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Pakistan’s invitation to tour

by Tractor

So, another lockdown is here, but this time I *shouldn’t* need to turn to watching Youtube videos of Eastern European tractor obstacle courses for my sporting entertainment. (True story. Lockdown Round 1 meant trying to hook a toddler onto TV, when he’d never watched it before, because we are those sorts of parents. Or were. Lockdown changed it all. Whatever.)

England men are now due to pop over to South Africa for a white ball series later this month, having seemingly politely declined Pakistan’s offer to host us over there. This part gives me mixed feelings. Pakistan and West Indies, and to a lesser extent Australia and Ireland, really saved English cricket by coming over to tour this summer. Yes, I know we had the luxury of two ‘biosecure’ venues where players and staff could sort of have some freedom to roam and train, and of course most other countries can’t offer that. So in theory, it’s a ‘no’ to Pakistan because they can’t set up the right level of Covid bio-security.

I’m not sure South Africa can, either, though. Can they?

It just feels rather mean spirited. Years ago Channel 4 had a show along the lines of Wife Swap. In this version (I can’t find it – I’ve Googled it three times and that’s enough) two whole families were involved. Each family basically took it in turns to go and ‘serve’ the other family in their home. Usually there was a rich family and a poor family, just to rub it in. In the only episode I can actually remember, the poor old poor kids slaved away for the evil Tory supporters for a week, being chastised for not drying the plates they removed from the dishwasher. Then when it was time to swap and the rich were meant to move in and serve the poor in return…they just put their feet up and said no.

When Poor Mum pleaded that this wasn’t fair, because her children had scrubbed their floor on hands and knees the previous week, Rich Mum said ‘tough titty.’ Or words to that effect. In her view, Family Poor was naïve to think they would be repaid in kind for their own service.

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And after all that, there was nothing to be done but pick up the dropped jaws and carry on.

I don’t need to labour the comparison.

All this sounds like I am condemning the ECB for seemingly not accepting Pakistan’s invitation. I sort of am, but not entirely – as I said, I have mixed feelings.

Possibly, Pakistan’s invitation was only ever meant as a gesture, with zero effort into producing sterile, isolated wastelands, I mean, biosecure bubbles (I hate this phrase more every time I type it), a) because they can’t be arsed with the expense and b) because Pakistan still has far greater challenges going on than meeting the demands of the ECB.

But the main reason I am sneakily, guilty pleased that England probably won’t be heading to Pakistan any time too soon is that I am desperate to visit myself, and possibly, just possibly, if the dates align, to go on the first England cricket tour since 2005. Mr Tractor was on that tour, along with Gilo aka Streetfly and West Ham Mike, and I have been kicking myself ever since that it never even occurred to me to go back then. I’d love to see the country, and know people who have visited safely, so it’s more about hoping to tie in with the first tour, which I would have expected to be in the next three-five years until covid hit us.

So I’ll be watching England’s touring plans closely, school holiday calendar in hand, and hoping that when the team goes, spectators can too, and I will be among them.

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