London (AFP) – Pakistan are “probably a week away” from getting a training squad together for their tour of England, the country’s top cricket administrator said Thursday.
The coronavirus has delayed the start of the English season until at least July, but the England and Wales Cricket Board is hoping to stage a full international campaign to avoid a possible loss of £380 million ($465 million).
West Indies are due to arrive for a three-Test tour in July, originally planned for June.
Pakistan are also scheduled to play three Tests behind closed doors, with Australia and Ireland due to visit for limited-overs internationals.
Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan stressed nothing would be done that put his players’ health at risk, but said preparations were being put in place for the tour.
“The players trust that we are going to do what is right by them,” Khan told Sky Sports.
“We are not going to jeopardise their health. We all want cricket to be played but not at all costs.
“We will have an extended squad. We are looking at bringing about 25 players. We are planning to get them together to train for the tour. We’re probably about a week away from that.”
The UK government’s current guidance means any arrivals from overseas must remain in quarantine for 14 days.
But that could also double as a training period if Pakistan can be based at a cricket ground.
“The ECB have said they are going to come back to us on that once they have gained clarity on what we can do during that time,” Khan explained.
“We are trying to get to England early July so that we can get the quarantine done. If we can practice during that time then great, if not then it gives us just under three weeks to practice.”
The Rose Bowl in Southampton and Old Trafford in Manchester have been touted as possible ‘bio-secure’ grounds due to having on-site hotels.
Khan added: “We are told there are going to be two venues. We have not been told which the two venues are. We are also told there is going to be a third venue, which is going to be our base while we are in England.”
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said his organisation would be keeping an eye on the preceding tours before deciding whether to send a team later in the year.
“Obviously we won’t jeopardise the safety of the players,” he told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
“But the best test of that is the West Indian and Pakistan tours of England before we’re due to tour. We hope they go off without a hitch.”