Pakistan to send combined squad for ‘bio-secure’ England tour, says CEO Khan

The PCB would seek medical advice and government guidance before going on the tour, he added.

In Summary

• The test and Twenty20 squads will travel together, giving team management options in the event of injuries.

• Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) is exploring the possibility of disinfecting the ball during matches to minimise the health risk to players during the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of its medical team said on Wednesday.

Pakistan's Babar Azam celebrates during a past match
Pakistan's Babar Azam celebrates during a past match
Image: / Reuters

 

Pakistan plan to send a 25-man squad to England in July to meet the demands of playing an entire tour in a ‘bio-secure’ bubble, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan told Reuters.

Pakistan are scheduled to play three tests in August followed by an equal number of Twenty20 Internationals, with the matches taking place behind closed doors as part of measures to combat COVID-19. The England and Wales Cricket Board detailed the provisions they planned to implement for the tour in a presentation on Friday and Khan told Reuters the PCB was encouraged by the proposals.

“So from that point of view, in principle, we are planning towards touring England,” he said.

The PCB would seek medical advice and government guidance before going on the tour, he added. The UK government has said elite sport can return in June without spectators and England hope to begin their delayed summer of cricket with a test series against West Indies in July.

Pakistan will have to arrive almost a month before the first test to undergo a two-week quarantine period mandatory for all visitors and get in some match practice.

The test and Twenty20 squads will travel together, giving team management options in the event of injuries.

“From a manageability point of view, it makes sense for us and the ECB that the whole squad travel as one, so you create a bubble if you like around those players for the whole of the time that they are in England,” Khan said.

The ECB has not announced venues for the tour but British media tipped Manchester and Southampton, both with on-site hotels, to stage the matches. Khan said venues would have testing centres and zones that would be off-limits to anyone other than players and officials.

“They are planning to create bio-secure hotels, a sort of environment around the players in certain parts of the hotel to keep the players safe and away from the general public,” Khan added.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia (CA) is exploring the possibility of disinfecting the ball during matches to minimise the health risk to players during the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of its medical team said on Wednesday.

Player health is a major concern as the game seeks to return from the coronavirus shutdown and the International Cricket Council’s cricket committee has recommended a ban on shining the ball with saliva.

“Disinfecting the ball is a consideration,” CA Sports Science and Sports Medicine Manager Alex Kountouris said in a video-conference. “We don’t know the impact on the ball because we haven’t tested it. We’d obviously have to test it, we’d have to speak to the ICC and get permission...”

“The ball being leather, it’s harder to disinfect because it’s got little nooks and crevices. So we don’t know how effective it’s going to be, we don’t know how infected the ball is going to get and we don’t know if it’s going to be allowed.”

“But it’s absolutely a consideration. Everything is on the table at the moment, everything is being considered.”

Kountouris said the proposed ban on shining the ball with saliva would be difficult for players to get used to.

“Some people are used to licking their fingers before they grab the ball. People are used to shining the ball with their fingers ... there are going to be mistakes at some point,” he added. “I imagine we are going to take a commonsense approach and understand that people make mistakes and things are not going to be perfect.”