ECB considering Pakistan tour invite for early 2021
The England and Wales Cricket Board is in talks regarding sending its men's team for a first tour of Pakistan since 2005.
The ECB has received an invite from the Pakistan Cricket Board for January and February, and is considering the request, which would see England play three Twenty20 games in the country, according to ESPNCricinfo.
England are not due to play Pakistan ‘away’ (which for the last decade has meant in the United Arab Emirates), until late 2022, but the PCB has issued the invite on the basis that England’s winter plans have been thrown into confusion by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with scheduled tours of Sri Lanka and India early next year up in the air.
Test cricket returned to Pakistan in late 2019 with a visit from Sri Lanka, 10 years on from the team being the target of a terrorist attack in Lahore. International cricket had returned in 2015 with a series against Zimbabwe.
In a statement, the ECB said: “As with any proposed tour that takes place at this time, the safety of our players and staff is paramount. As such, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration…
“We will be liaising with the PCB… over the coming weeks to work through these considerations, before a final decision will be taken in due course.”
The organisation added: “We welcome the fact that international cricket is returning to Pakistan and are committed to doing what we can to help this develop further.”
Pakistan toured England this summer, which was seen as a considerable favour from the PCB given the prevalence of the virus in the UK at the time and the financial repercussions of the cancellation of series.
Pakistan are due to host Zimbabwe for a limited overs series starting later this month.
Elsewhere, USA Cricket is working towards becoming a full member of the International Cricket Council by 2030.
The body has released a blueprint document, highlighting the steps it will look to take in the next few years - including launching a professional Twenty20 league by 2022, and submitting a joint bid with West Indies to host an ICC event in the 2023 to 2031 cycle.
The plan also says USA Cricket will work to have at least three ICC-accredited match venues by next year - currently, there is only one.
The planned T20 league has been branded Major League Cricket, but no firm plans or dates have been disclosed yet.
In June this year, Iain Higgins, USA Cricket’s chief executive, said that he hoped “the ICC can be brave enough to bring a T20 World Cup to the US. Every venue would be sold out… Imagine India playing Pakistan in a T20 World Cup here - you could not build a venue big enough.”
In March this year, it was reported that USA, alongside West Indies, would soon launch a joint bid to host an ICC global event, likely to be for one of the T20 World Cups in 2026 or 2030.