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Tuesday Nov 17 2020
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England’s tour to Pakistan postponed due to cost and availability of players

Moeen Ali hammers a blow down the ground. Photo Courtesy: Cric.info/Getty Images

LAHORE: England's tour to Pakistan has been postponed until September or October 2021, after plans for the series to go ahead at the end of January were abandoned on the grounds of cost and availability of the players, The News reported on Tuesday.

According to Cricinfo, both boards agreed that such a historic occasion warranted a full-strength England squad. 

With England’s Test squad scheduled for series in Sri Lanka and India in January and a large number of their top limited-overs players scheduled to be involved in the Big Bash League (BBL), there had been the prospect of England sending the equivalent of a C Team to Pakistan for what would have been the first official tour of the country in 15 years.

Read more: Pakistan announces 16-member Test squad for England series

It is also understood that some at the England Cricket Board (ECB) had reservations about devaluing international caps by awarding them to players who might, in ordinary circumstances, be considered third- or fourth-choice.

Although the trip might have lasted as little as 96 hours, England was planning on arranging a training camp in the UAE and hiring a charter flight for the team. Costs could have extended to somewhere around £800,000 for the trip.

The lack of star players - on the England side, at least - might also have had a knock-on effect on the value of the broadcasting deal in Pakistan.

England have not toured Pakistan since Michael Vaughan’s team visited in the winter of 2005. 

Although they are already scheduled to play a Test series there in late 2022, the Pakistan Cricket Board has expressed their desire for a visit sooner than that to show the ECB’s support for the return of international cricket to the country.

With Pakistan’s players having endured less than perfect conditions in helping England fulfill their international fixtures in 2020, there is a sense that the ECB do owe Pakistan a favour.

The strong working relationship between the two CEOs, Tom Harrison of the ECB and Wasim Khan of the PCB, has also played a part in squeezing the tour into an already crowded schedule.