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Pakistan could play up to five Tests in England if West Indies opt out of tour

The start of the English cricket summer has been delayed until July 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic

Pakistan could play up to five Tests in England if West Indies opt out of tour PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan can end up playing up to five Test matches in England this summer, if the three-match Test series between the hosts and West Indies is unable to go ahead.

The start of the English cricket summer has been delayed until July 1 at the earliest by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, with the West Indies series already postponed from its original June dates.

Trying to salvage lucrative men's internationals is the priority for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with chief executive Tom Harrison warning a complete wipeout of the 2020 season could cost the governing body £380 million ($469 million). However, according to a report by the Daily Mail, travel restrictions could hamper the series between England and West Indies this summer.

The West Indies team is made up of players from different Caribbean countries, hence the tour would need to be approved by several governments, which can be a complex and time consuming process. The ECB wants the series against West Indies to begin from July 8 and cannot afford further delays. The report further added that the last Friday's Zoom meeting between ECB and Cricket West Indies wasn’t as positive, as the two boards only discussed the potential venues for the series.

Meanwhile, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have already discussed the possibility of adding a fourth Test match to the series between the two sides.

The Men in Green are scheduled to tour England in August for three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is).

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The PCB is open to the idea of an extended stay and is willing to play four to five matches after approval from both governments and relevant medical authorities.

PCB is assembling a 25-member squad for the aforementioned tour and is expected to organise few internal warm-up games between the players in order to prepare for the series.

Since anyone travelling to United Kingdom has to go through 14-day isolation period, Pakistan is expected to arrive in England three weeks prior to the start of the series.

The Ageas Bowl in Southampton and Manchester's Emirates Old Trafford are under consideration for hosting maximum Tests this summer, as both the stadiums have on-site hotels. However, the fourth Test between England and Pakistan could take place at Edgbaston, Birmingham from July 24, due to the stadium’s spacious layout, which can keep players together in their own group.