LAHORE: Despite the cricket boards of Pakistan and England meeting through a video link on May 15, a final decision on Pakistan’s tour of England scheduled to begin from July 30 will only be taken by mid-June.

Pakistan are due to play three Tests and as many Twenty20 Internationals in England during the tour and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan said players’ health and safety will be kept as first priority before any decision is taken regarding the tour.

Wasim was speaking before the British government announced on Monday that sports events will be allowed to resume in England in June if there is no new spike in coronavirus infections. However, the document containing guidelines on easing lockdown restrictions said that spectators will not be allowed into stadiums until significantly later.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has already said that the sport will not resume until July.

“We are in constant communication with the ECB and a conference call has been set up for Friday,” Wasim said on Monday. “The call will be attended by ECB’s Chief Executive, Director Cricket, Chief Medical Officer and Director International Cricket Operations. I will be representing the PCB along with Misbah-ul-Haq, Zakir Khan and Dr Sohail Saleem. At this stage we will be discussing various options while a decision on the tour is expected to be made in June.”

Wasim added that the ECB was “focused on providing a secure environment for the series against Pakistan”.

The West Indies were to tour England in June but their three-Test series has been postponed. There has been talk that if the West Indies do not tour England, Pakistan might get to play four or five Tests instead of three.

“The PCB will evaluate the players’ travel and accommodation plan that will be shared by the ECB,” said Wasim. “There will be more clarity after the conference call. In England, the most important aspect is the health of the players since the longer they stay there, the more they will be exposed.”

Wasim said that the next 12 months were important as the cricket community needed to work together and support each other in the prevailing global crisis.

He was hopeful that both England and Australia will tour Pakistan for their scheduled series in 2021 and 2022 respectively. “The tours of MCC and Sri Lanka as well as the recent PSL-V season show that Pakistan is safe for cricket now.”

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2020

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