Pakistan ready to step in if England’s three-match behind-closed-doors series against West Indies collapses… with Edgbaston seen as likely venue
- England could face Pakistan if a three-match series with West Indies collapses
- Organising those matches is complex given the current coronavirus pandemic
- Pakistan are thought to be willing to remain in England this summer to fill in
- Edgbaston in Birmingham has been earmarked if England do face Pakistan
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Pakistan would be willing to extend their tour of England this summer if the planned three-match Test series against West Indies is scuppered.
The ECB have been working on numerous contingency plans in their attempts to salvage as much international cricket as possible, and Sportsmail can reveal that Pakistan were asked about the feasibility of playing a fourth Test here — at Edgbaston from July 24 — last month.
Currently they are due to contest three Tests in August, plus three Twenty20 internationals, but are understood to be open to a longer stay.
Pakistan would be willing to play a fourth Test against England this summer if the planned three-match series against the West Indies is unable to go ahead due to travel restrictions
The ECB want Jason Holder’s Windies to take part in a three-match series behind closed doors
The priority remains to get West Indies here in July for three matches that will count towards the World Test Championship.
But the complexities involved mean that series is far from certain, even if the British Government provides the green light for playing in a bio-secure environment.
West Indies players come from different Caribbean nations, meaning several governments being involved in ratification after any tour is passed at board level. It is unlikely to be a straightforward process and time is restricted given a working date of July 8 for the first Test.
England’s Test side are looking to pack the summer but doubts remain over feasibility of it all
Cricket West Indies remain keen to help out their English counterparts, who face a £380million hole in their finances should no cricket be played across the 2020 season.
Despite the commitment, last Friday’s Zoom meeting between the two boards was not as positive as some expected, with its contents not reaching much further than outlining potential venues for the matches.
The Ageas Bowl in Southampton and Manchester’s Emirates Old Trafford are the preferred venues to host a maximum six Tests as they both incorporate on-site hotels, but the ECB have invited counties to pitch for the rights to hold matches and news of the Pakistan offer suggests the hierarchy view Edgbaston as a viable alternative.
The spacious layout of the Birmingham venue would be a key factor in keeping players together in their own group.
Edgbaston has been earmarked as a potential venue if Pakistan assume West Indies’ position
Pakistan are mobilising a 25-man squad to travel and will play an internal match as a warm-up to any series.
The Pakistan Cricket Board are known to be amenable to extend the series to four or five matches as long as governments, medical advice and time frames allow.
Given the 14-day self-isolation period demanded of foreign visitors by the UK authorities, they expect the need to arrive three weeks before competitive action.