Cricket-Pakistan in no rush to make call on England tour


MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will not rush into a decision about their upcoming tour of England amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Chief Executive Wasim Khan has said.

England are scheduled to host the South Asian side for three tests from July 30, followed by three Twenty20 internationals, but with the UK struggling to contain COVID-19 Wasim said they would wait a few more weeks before confirming a decision.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already said that the sport will not resume until July, though it is likely to be in stadiums without fans.

“Health and safety is paramount for our players and officials and we are not going to compromise on it,” Wasim told reporters on Monday.

“The situation in England is poor right now, and we will ask them about their plans. We are not making any decisions, but we will assess and decide in next three to four weeks.

“This isn’t an easy situation, and it isn’t an easy decision to make, because things are changing every day in England.

“There are so many things to be considered – flights, hotels and they are talking about bio-security stadiums … so if people ask me, I will tell them to wait and be patient.”

PCB executives, along with coach Misbah-ul-Haq, are scheduled to discuss the arrangements with their ECB counterparts on Friday via video conference.

Test cricket returned to Pakistan after a decade with a two-match series against Sri Lanka in December. The series marked Pakistan’s first tests on home soil since a militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore in 2009.

The world’s top sides have been reluctant to return to Pakistan, though England are scheduled to tour next year while Australia are due to visit in 2022.

Wasim said the PCB would not make England’s visit a pre-condition of travelling to the United Kingdom for the upcoming series.

“It’s a tough situation for everyone right now, and I don’t think it’s fair to take advantage of the situation,” Khan said, adding he was hopeful England and Australia would come to Pakistan.

“The most important thing for us is to revive the game for all countries. If we don’t, we will be facing a lot of problems going forward.

“The next 12 months will be tough for cricket financially … thankfully, the PCB is fine for the next 12 months but thereafter, in 18 months’ time, we will also have problems. Hopefully, by then, cricket will resume.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford

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