Pakistan could play more Tests in tour of England if it goes ahead

With the British government due to announce measures to ease the lockdown in the country, it appears Pakistan could be touring on schedule.

Babar Azam reacts after being hit by a Ben Sokes' delivery during Pakistan's tour of England in 2018.   -  REUTERS

Pakistan might play more Test matches during its tour of England if it goes ahead as scheduled in July after the West Indies pulled out of an assignment there in June owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pakistan Cricket Board and the England and Wales Cricket Board officials are due to have a video conference on May 18 to discuss how they should proceed with the tour given the situation because of the pandemic.

“At present we have to play three Tests and three T20 internationals but the number of Tests could be increased and the tour could start a bit early in July,” a PCB source said.

The source said that the ECB could offer to organise a four or five Test series against Pakistan if the West Indies tour didn’t go ahead.

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Issues that are likely to be discussed in the May 18 meet are a quarantine period for Pakistani players when they arrive in England in July and limiting the venues for the matches and playing before empty stadiums.

PCB CEO Wasim Khan confirmed the video conference but said so far, the ECB has not spoken to them on increasing the number of matches on the tour which is scheduled between July and September.

“Things will be clear after the meeting but whatever decision we take we will consult our captains and head coaches before giving any confirmation,” Khan said.

The PCB has so far kept mum on the chances of the series taking place in England because of the COVID-19 situation.

But with the British government due to announce measures to ease the lockdown in the country, it appears Pakistan could be touring on schedule.

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Some former players have, however, asked the PCB to tread on the side of caution.

“If the West Indies have decided to postpone their series in June because of safety reasons and because of the situation then the PCB should also be very careful before taking up any offer from the ECB,” a former captain said.

The West Indies Cricket Board said its players have to be convinced of their safety for it to commit to the assignment, which “is not possible in June.”

”We will continue our discussions with the ECB and other Internationals Boards on trying to find new dates,” it said in a recent press release.

“We will only travel to England to play the series if our players can be assured that it is safe to do so,” it added.

Pakistan is also scheduled to play an ODI series against Ireland while in UK but that series could be rescheduled and also be held in England.

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