By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Oct 16 (APP): Pakistan Cricket Board has invited England for three T20I in January 2021, just before the two Test and three T20I series against South Africa, Chief Executive Officer, Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed on Friday.
The tour, which is subject to Covid-19 situation as well as security clearance, will likely take place between 13 and 20 January ,Wasim Khan told APP here in an exclusive interview. The dates and venues will only be discussed and confirmed after England Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gives their go-ahead to the tour.
“I sent an invitation to the (ECB) early this week on Monday following various discussions with their chief executive Tom Harrison. The ECB will now follow their standard pre-tour protocols, including assessment of the Covid-19 situation, player availability and security clearance before informing us of their decision.
“But I am encouraged and feel optimistic with the fillers and responses I have been receiving from London and I remain confident that Pakistan will be able to host England for a short tour, which will set the stage for a full tour in 2022,” Wasim Khan told the Associated Press of Pakistan.
The England and Wales Cricket Board endorsed Wasim Khan’s comments, saying: “After discussions with the Pakistan Cricket Board, we can confirm the England and Wales Cricket has received an invitation in respect of a short white-ball tour to Pakistan during the early part of 2021.”
At the end of the drawn second Test at Southampton in August, England Test captain Joe Root had expressed his desire tour Pakistan.
“I’d love to go and visit Pakistan. It would be a great opportunity to go and play there personally. You could see the emotion of everyone back in Pakistan when Test cricket was there back-end of last year.
“Also, speaking to a few of the players, how much it meant to them as well and they really appreciated being able to play back in Pakistan too. We’ve such a busy schedule already with backlogging due to Covid, it will be interesting to see how that would work,” Root was quoted as saying.
Earlier this week, British Airways resumed their flights to Lahore for the first time in 44 years. They had earlier suspended their operation to Islamabad in June due to Covid-19, but revived in August.
England last toured Pakistan in 2005 under Michael Vaughan, but the 2012 and 2015 series were played in the United Arab Emirates. If the three T20I tour goes ahead, it will all but confirm England’s full tour in 2022 for three Tests and three ODIs.
Thirteen England players, led by Moeen Ali, featured in the Pakistan Super League 2020, which was staged in Pakistan for the first time since its inception in 2016. The other 12 Englishmen to spend nearly five weeks in Pakistan included Tom Banton, Ravi Bopara, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordon, Dan Lawrence, Liam Livingston, Samit Patel, Liam Plunkett, Jason Roy, Phil Salt and James Vince.
Earlier this summer, Wasim Khan was severely criticized for his decision to send the Pakistan squad to England for a scheduled FTP tour. However, he had stood firm on his decision, repeatedly emphasizing that cricket and Covid needed to co-exist for a period time, and, therefore, it was critical that PCB played its part in getting cricket being played again globally.
Pakistan lost the Test series 1-0, a series they should have won, and tied the T20Is 1-1, again a result that could have gone in the way of the green shirts.
PCB CEO said,“ That was absolutely the right thing to do. We wanted our cricketers to play cricket, provide entertainment to the home-restricted fans and show solidarity with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
He said,“I had insisted then and reiterate again that we had not set any pre-tour conditions as our first priority was always to get cricket back on. During my time over in England in the summer,I tentatively spoke about a short-white ball tour. Following further discussions over the last couple of months, a formal invitation was sent to the ECB on 12 October”.
“I am pleased that although we are yet to cross the line, there is a real willingness to make this work, which would be great news for global cricket as well as for Pakistan cricket fans all over the world,” Wasim Khan said.