LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja has said that Pakistan cricket has been let down by the “Western Bloc” and the back-to-back pullouts by New Zealand and England could have a “domino effect” for cricket in the South Asian country. After a decade spent trying to woo back cricket’s international elite, Pakistan is facing the prospect of being declared the game’s no-go area again, and the anger is palpable. A sense of deja vu swept the country on Friday when New Zealand abruptly pulled the plug on their first Pakistan tour in 18 years, citing a security alert. With England also cancelling, citing “mental and physical well-being” of the players, what would have been their first visit to the South Asian country in 16 years next month, Pakistan’s bumper home season looks in disarray. It is a massive setback for the cricket-mad nation which moved heaven and earth to project itself as a safe destination and won tour commitments from several leading teams. The PCB has been bristling at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision, officials saying it has left them feeling betrayed. Pakistan have twice toured England, as well as New Zealand and West Indies, at a time when Covid-19 infection rates in Britain were among the highest in the world for a three-match Test and T20 series that saved the ECB millions in television rights deals, only to now see England cite general Covid-19 bubble fatigue as a reason for withdrawing from the tour. “I am severely disappointed in England’s withdrawal but it was expected because this Western Bloc gets united unfortunately and tries to back each other,” Ramiz told reporters in a virtual news conference on Tuesday. “So you can take any decision on the basis of security threat and perception. There was a sense of anger because first New Zealand got away without sharing information about the threat they were facing. Now, this (England) was expected but this is a lesson for us because we go out of our way to accommodate and pamper these sides when they visit. And when we go there, we undergo strict quarantines and we tolerate their admonishments, but there is a lesson in this. That is, that from now on we will only go as far as is in our interest. Our interest is that cricket will not stop in our country and if the cricket fraternity will not take care of each other then there’s no point to it. New Zealand, then England, now we have a West Indies series that can also be hit, and Australia who is already reconsidering. This — England, Australia, New Zealand — is all one bloc. Who can we complain to? We thought they were our own but they haven’t accepted us as theirs,” Ramiz added. Ramiz said it felt like that Pakistan cricket had been ‘used’ like a tissue paper. The first trip by the England men’s side to Pakistan since 2005 and first ever for the women’s team was due to see Rawalpindi host men’s and women’s Twenty20 double-headers on October 13 and 14. Heather Knight’s women’s team were then due to play three one-day internationals (ODIs) in the same city. Reaction to the withdrawal in Pakistan has been furious. “It’s the feeling of being used and then binned. That’s the feeling I have right now,” Ramiz maintained. “A little bit of hand-holding, a little bit of caring was needed after the New Zealand pull out and we didn’t get that from England which is so frustrating. We’ve been going out of our way to meet the international demands, being such a responsible member of the cricketing fraternity, and in return we get a response from the ECB saying the players were spooked by New Zealand’s withdrawal. What does that mean?” The series was supposed to be part of the preparation for England’s men ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. But many of their star players would now be free to play in the latter stages of the lucrative Indian Premier League, also being hosted in the UAE, should their sides reach the knockout phase. “It’s a fantastic dichotomy, isn’t it? You are quoting fatigue and mental tension and players being spooked and an hour-and-a-half flight from here before a World Cup they are quite happy to be caged in a bubble environment and carry on with the tournament. One feels slighted, one feels humiliated because withdrawal doesn’t have an answer.” Though it is too early to start calculating the financial impact of these two tours not happening, or potentially, other hits being taken in the season, some within the board reckon the losses could range from between USD $15-$25 million. There’s been talk of replacement sides coming in to fill the gap — Zimbabwe, a second-string Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have offered — but there are logistical difficulties. Instead Ramiz said the lesson Pakistan needed to learn from this was to strengthen from within, so that teams would not even think about pulling out. “We have to improve and expand our cricket economy so that these countries remain interested in playing us,” he said. “That is in our interests as well so that our players are paid better and we are respected more. They come to the PSL where they don’t get spooked or fatigued but collectively they have a different mindset together toward Pakistan.” Though he did not provide details, Ramiz said that Pakistan had begun a formal communication with New Zealand seeking compensation for losses relating to the abandonment of the tour. And as he did a couple of days ago, he again called on his team to take out the frustrations of their players and fans on the field when they finally play at the T20 World Cup.