Pakistan, England cricket chiefs look to save Test tour

Khalid Hussain
Photo: AFP

Pakistan’s cricket chiefs are willing to help save England’s summer from complete disaster in the face of the coronavirus pandemic The News reported.

Sources in the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have confirmed that top PCB and ECB officials would be formally discussing this summer’s Pakistan’s tour of England during a teleconference on May 15.

Pakistan are scheduled to tour England during the second half of the summer to play three Tests, all part of the ICC World Test Championship, starting from August 5.

With the home series (three Tests) against West Indies starting July 8 in serious doubt because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, ECB is now banking on Pakistan to send their team and save a significant portion of the summer.

According to ECB’s own estimates, there would be financial losses to the tune of £380million if the entire summer was wiped out due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a bid to minimise losses, ECB are even mulling the idea of extending the series against Pakistan from three to four or even five Tests.

According to sources, ECB is expected to inform PCB officials about their plans for the home series against Pakistan during Friday’s interaction.

Both Boards have been informally discussing the tour, especially after the coronavirus outbreak but will finally try to make some concrete progress next week.

Sources said that the PCB is open to all options as long as the ECB comes out with a plan that can ensure the safety of their players.

“The PCB sees the safety of its players as paramount. If the ECB manages to convince Pakistan that the conditions will be safe for the players then there will be bright chances that the tour will go ahead,” said a source, privy to the discussions around the tour.

But the Pakistanis are likely to attach one more “very important” condition to their team’s tour.

England's tour of Pakistan 

“The Board would go all out to get assurances from ECB that England will play at least some part of the matches in Pakistan during their return tour next year,” said the source.

Pakistan are scheduled to host England at the end of 2021. Due to security issues, Pakistan have been hosting teams like England in the UAE for more than a decade. However, PCB officials have been in talks with ECB in a bid to convince them to send their team to Pakistan next year.

“At this moment in time ECB needs Pakistan. It gives PCB the perfect opportunity to secure a home series on home soil against England. Even if they get assurances about some of the matches in Pakistan it will be a breakthrough,” the source said.

While discussing the possibility of matches in Pakistan during the 2021 series would be on top of PCB’s agenda, the main discussion during the May 15 teleconference will be on the nitty-gritty of Pakistan’s tour of England this summer.

The PCB is looking forward to hearing a detailed plan from the ECB. This includes the dates and venues of the Tests. All three matches are expected to take place Ageas Bowl in Southampton and Old Trafford in Manchester as these are only two Test venues which have hotel arrangements right next to the cricket grounds.

Another major issue will be about the travel restrictions. It is understood that one of the major causes for concern for PCB is the rules and regulations in England related to Covid-19. It is expected that the visiting players might be asked to go into quarantine in England.

When asked about it, a PCB official said that the Board is still awaiting details from the ECB. “We are expecting them (ECB) to give us all the details next week,” he said.

About the reports of having an extended series in England, the official said that nothing has been discussed about it. “It’s all speculations.”

Pakistan, England cricket chiefs look to save Test tour