The ECB has confirmed it’s in talks with the PCB a few brief tour to Pakistan in late January or early February
The tour, first revealed as a risk by ESPNcricinfo on October 8, is more likely to include three T20Is and can be England’s first go to to Pakistan since late 2005.
Whereas England usually are not presently scheduled to tour Pakistan till late 2022, the PCB issued this invitation within the hope that England might have round per week between their tour of Sri Lanka, which is presently deliberate for January, and their Check and limited-overs sequence in opposition to India, that are resulting from happen from late January and into March.
The ECB seem eager to make the tour occur. Not solely are they grateful for Pakistan’s just lately concluded tour of England – Pakistan’s gamers had been obliged to spend a number of weeks in lockdown resulting from Covid-19 protocols – however they’re conscious of the highly effective message such a tour would ship to a rustic which was starved of top-flight cricket for a few years resulting from safety considerations.
“After discussions with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), we are able to verify the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has acquired an invite in respect of a brief white-ball tour to Pakistan in the course of the early a part of 2021,” the ECB stated in an announcement launched on October 15. “We welcome the truth that worldwide cricket is returning to Pakistan and are dedicated to doing what we are able to to assist this develop additional.
“As with all proposed tour that takes place right now, the protection and welfare of our gamers and employees is paramount. As such, there are a variety of things that have to be considered, together with the proposed protocols in relation to Covid-19 bio-secure bubbles, the proposed ranges of safety across the staff, in addition to the feasibility of enterprise this tour in opposition to the backdrop of an already busy schedule of worldwide cricket for the England males’s staff.
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“We will probably be liaising with the PCB, and in addition to different companions over the approaching weeks to work by way of these concerns, earlier than a ultimate determination will probably be taken sooner or later.”
Fairly just a few items of the jigsaw should come collectively earlier than the tour will be confirmed. For a begin, the ECB are more likely to must prioritise their obligations that are already scheduled – the Sri Lanka Check sequence was initially meant to be performed in March 2020 – and there’s nonetheless some doubt over the place the video games in opposition to India will probably be performed. Whereas it appears overwhelmingly possible the fixtures will probably be performed within the UAE resulting from prevalence of Covid-19 in India, the BCCI are but to formally acknowledge this. Because of the political tensions between the international locations and present well being necessities, it might additionally show problematic to journey instantly between Pakistan and India within the restricted time accessible.
Current stories from safety consultants means that confidence on this regard have risen significantly. Whereas safety for the tour would little question be extraordinarily tight, there was an acceptance throughout the ECB for a while that the tour in 2022 was viable. The PCB will even must fulfill the ECB’s medical staff that their plans for a bio-bubble are sufficient. As has develop into customary in recent times, gamers uncomfortable with happening the tour are more likely to be allowed to skip it with out consequence.
If the tour does happen, it might be thought of one thing of a coup for Wasim Khan, the chief government of the PCB. British-born Khan has are available in for criticism from some elements of Pakistan’s media since he was appointed to the position nearly two years in the past. However he has solid a powerful relationship with Tom Harrison, his counterpart on the ECB, and has labored onerous to assuage the safety considerations touring groups had till just lately. If this tour goes forward, one of many key goals of his time with the PCB can have been achieved.