England will make their first trip to Pakistan after 16 years when they play a two-match T20I series in Karachi next October as part of their preparations for the T20I World Cup in 2021 in India which will take place between October and November.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had initially invited England to tour the Asian country in January but a fixture clash ultimately rendered that impossible.
England Have Not Toured Pakistan Since 2005 After Sri Lankan Bus Attack In 2009
England are already due to be playing a Test series in Sri Lanka in January 2021. Besides, a number of their first-choice limited-overs players like Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and Tom Banton have signed deals to play in the Big Bash which would have also clashed with the dates.
Both the boards of England and Pakistan agreed that October would be a more feasible and suitable time for the series to happen, ensuring that England could tour with a full-strength team rather than a second-string squad. The two matches will take place in Karachi on October 14 and 15. England will arrive in Pakistan two days before the series commences and will depart for the T20I World Cup in India on October 16.
England have not been touring Pakistan since 2005, when they played three Test matches and five ODIs, losing both series. Following the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, which left a few civilians and policemen killed and a few including some cricketers injured, Pakistan’s subsequent home series against England, in 2012 and 2015, were played in UAE for security reasons.
However, international cricket has gradually returned to Pakistan. Sri Lanka played a 2 match Test series along with 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is there in 2019 while Zimbabwe have just completed a limited-overs tour of the country comprising of three ODIs and as many T20Is.
The whole of this season’s Pakistan Super League took place in Pakistan too. The instances have demonstrated the effectiveness of the high-level security arrangements put in place by the Pakistan Cricket Board, with governmental support, and proved that Pakistan is safe for teams to visit.
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England’s trip will pave the way for a full tour, including three Test matches, in the winter of 2022-23 as part of their Future Tours Program obligations. South Africa and West Indies are also due to play in Pakistan next year while Australia have a commitment for Test and limited-overs series in early 2022, while New Zealand will tour Pakistan in later in 2022 as part of the FTP.
Wasim Khan, PCB Chief Executive, said: “The October 2021 T20Is will allow the leading England cricketers to access and examine the world-class arrangements we will put together, which will give them further encouragement and confidence to not only return in 2022-23 but also express their interest in the Pakistan Super League, which has grown to become one of the top leagues in the world.”
“The enhanced progress made over the last two years has been down to nurturing relationships with various cricket boards and international players, as well as building trust and confidence. The ECB’s confirmation further endorses Pakistan as safe and secure,” he added.
The short tour is also a return gift after PCB sent a team over to England during the summer, despite the COVID-19 pandemic engulfing the country.
“It’s a real pleasure to announce that the England men’s IT20 squad will be playing in Pakistan in October 2021. It represents a significant moment for both nations,” Harrison said. “As was demonstrated this summer, we have a strong relationship with PCB and ECB is delighted to be able to play our part in ensuring the safe return of international cricket to this wonderful nation of passionate cricket fans.
“As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount. We are working closely with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic,” he maintained.
The Pakistan squad were locked away in a bio-secure bubble for almost 2 months and Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said last month that English cricket benefitted by the likes of Pakistan coming to England to play.