LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are in the initial stages of working things out for Pakistan team’s tour to England in July-August. However, they are likely to face several hurdles ahead before crossing the bridge.
Last Friday both the cricket boards held a teleconference as the ECB briefed the PCB officials about its arrangements to make the tour safe and secure for everyone. In the next step, the PCB on Wednesday briefed the Pakistani players in light of that discussion.
“The response of the players was positive but still lot of work has to be done to overhaul the hurdles in the way before going ahead with the tour and of course we want to ensure the well being and health of the players and the support staff,” a PCB spokesman said.
“The players are just briefed and now they will take their time to think about their availability for the tour, considering the entire picture in the backdrop of the restrictions they have to face during the whole process, starting from their training at the NCA till the end of the tour,” he said.
“Under the new central contract there is no binding on the players to tour England,” he said. “Every player is independent in taking a decision, either he wants to go or not. The only loss they will suffer is that they will not get the money in the shape of match fees, daily allowances but there will be no reduction in their central contract amount,” he clarified.
It may be mentioned here that the PCB has plans to organise a training camp from the first week of June at the NCA. After preparing the SOPs for the training camp, the PCB has to get its approval from the government of Punjab. So the players will go through a long period of almost three months — commencing with the training camp till the end of the tour — under a bio-secure environment.
Under this environment, not only the players but their support staff, including coaches even cooks and waiters would not be allowed to go to any other place or meet anyone. The entire process will take the players and the allied staff in a new world for a three months period, which they have never seen in the past.
Meanwhile, the PCB also issued a press release that stated: “Wasim Khan, Zakir Khan, Dr Sohail Saleem and Misbah-ul-Haq updated the players on their last week’s discussions with the ECB, concerning the upcoming tour to England. Players were assured the PCB will not compromise on their health and safety.
“The PCB briefed the players it will be looking to send a 25-player squad comprising red and white-ball players in early July; the squad will stay together till the end of the tour. The PCB is planning to hold a pre-tour training camp in Lahore from early June amidst strict ICC guidelines; Dr Sohail Saleem, Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis will devise training schedule in line with strict health and safety guidelines.
“The PCB will share further details with the players and post their next round discussion with the ECB. It seems the Pakistan cricket team will have to remain under strict bio-secure environment for up to three months,” said CEO Wasim Khan “The players will be given an option to withdraw if they are still not satisfied with the provisions that will be put in place, full details of which will be provided in the coming weeks,” he said.
“The PCB is ready to deal with the unprecedented operational and logistical challenges of housing and training by ensuring a profound bio-secure cover for the players in Lahore before flying the players to England; PCB confirms new central contracts to include medical coverage for players’ immediate families.”
Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2020