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Will make a decision on the England tour in three-four weeks – PCB
Pakistan Tour of England

Will make a decision on the England tour in three-four weeks – PCB

The Pakistan Cricket Board will not be rushed into making a final decision on the England tour as it is cautiously assessing the COVID-19 situation.

Pakistan is scheduled to visit England at the end of July to compete in a three-Test and three-T20I series but the fate of the tour is uncertain because of the unprecedented coronavirus crisis. The UK is one of the most severely affected regions as the country has lost the second-most number of lives in the world due to the viral disease.

The PCB is thus not taking any chances of promising their commitment for the full-fledged tour before getting assurances regarding the travel arrangements and safety of the players.

"Health and safety of the players and officials is the most important aspect of the tour. We cannot compromise on that. The longer they stay there, they have a greater chance of getting exposed," PCB CEO Wasim Khan told reporters on Monday.

Pakistan's tour is supposed to be preceded by a series between West Indies and England, which was originally slated to begin on May 22 but has now been postponed.

There have been reports that Pakistan's trip to England could be prolonged if the contests against West Indies do not go as planned, though Wasim denied that such a suggestion was not on the table presently.

"We have not yet discussed the possibility of playing four or five Tests against England."

"There is speculation that the West Indies might not tour England but we are looking forward to the May 15 meeting after which we will assess our options."

"The situation in England is pretty bad right now. Our meeting with the ECB will include their 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 are not making a decision on the tour. This will be decided in the next three-four weeks since the situation is rapidly changing every week."

Wasim insisted that the PCB required time to analyse a host of factors ranging from the availability of bio-secure stadiums and hotel bookings during these troubling times.

"Many things have to be considered - flights, hotels and ensuring bio-secure environments… so if people ask me, I will tell them to wait and be patient."

The impact of the virus has been similar in Pakistan as well where an exponential increase in the number of cases over the past week has renewed health fears.

Wasim emphasised that the PCB had enough capacity to withstand the financial effects of the break from cricket for about one year. He also voiced optimism over the normal commencement of the 2020/21 domestic season with the relevant safety precautions.

“PCB is equipped to deal with the situation for the next one year but if the situation persists for 18 months, the board would have to review the situation and make decisions; however we are confident cricket will resume by then,” he stated.

"We are hopeful that the domestic season starts in September-October but are also simultaneously mulling over contingency plans in the case of a spike in coronavirus."