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COVID-19 outbreak: Misbah suggests extending the World Test Championship
Pakistan News

COVID-19 outbreak: Misbah suggests extending the World Test Championship

Pakistan head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has advised the ICC to consider extending the duration of the World Test Championship with the coronavirus pandemic having a tumultuous effect on the international schedule.

The nine-team competition is originally set to run from 2019 to 2021 but a couple of Test series part of the tournament have already been postponed due to the global health crisis.

England's tour of Sri Lanka was called off even though the visitors had played a warm-up game in the island nation while Bangladesh were scheduled to partake in a Test in Karachi starting April 5.

The prospect of future series being moved ahead owing to the worsening coronavirus situation might prompt the organizers to ponder over the feasibility of completing the Test Championship by June 2021.

"I just think that all teams must get equal opportunities in the championship even if matches are rescheduled," Misbah told reporters during a video conference from his residence in Lahore.

"Whenever cricket resumes, all teams should get equal opportunity in the World Test Championship to try to play in the final. The tournament can be extended beyond 2021," he added.

Pakistan began their championship campaign with successive humiliating losses to Australia before salvaging their pride with a series win at home against a full-strength Sri Lanka squad.

The Azhar Ali-led side then moved into a strong position by winning the first Test of the two-match series against Bangladesh by an emphatic margin.

With Misbah having complained about the irregularity in Test fixtures for Pakistan in the past, he now hopes the inaugural championship would be lengthened.

"The tournament should be extended, that is my view. That is the only way we can find and end the event in a balanced way. Matches can be rescheduled if the event is extended," he said.

The rising number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has compelled the government to announce a virtual lockdown, which includes the closure of training facilities for players.

Despite the shutdown, Misbah believes players in self-isolation need to keep working on their fitness and analyse the England squad as they will lock horns with Joe Root's men in July.

"I have been in touch with most of the players including centrally contracted players. Even the trainer is in touch with them. We are sending them plans according to their equipment at home to remain in shape as a team."

"I want the physical condition of players to be what is required in Test cricket whenever cricket resumes."

When asked about the financial impacts and potential consequences of the pandemic-enforced break on the national contracts, Misbah said the board and players will discuss it in due course if the existing uncertainty fails to subside.

"When new contracts come, we will see the situation and make the right decisions and players will have to understand so it will not be a one-way decision. Everyone is mentally ready for such a situation," he said.