England are set to host a bumper international summer in 2021 – followed by a similarly packed winter that includes a first trip to Pakistan in 16 years – under proposed schedules released on Wednesday.
While the Covid-19 pandemic continues to bring uncertainty to the sport, the England and Wales Cricket Board has ploughed on with plans for a home season with supporters in attendance. It could feature up to seven men’s Tests, 12 white-ball fixtures and series against South Africa and New Zealand for the women’s team.
The men’s Test team will play a five-match series against India in August and September and could also have two additional fixtures against an as-yet unnamed opponent in June – believed to be New Zealand – should they not be part of the inaugural World Test Championship final that month.
Eoin Morgan’s white-ball side is due to face Sri Lanka in three ODIs and Pakistan for three ODIs and three Twenty20s but talks are under way with the former about an additional T20 series.
After a summer spent behind closed doors in 2020, next year’s bloated fixture list – one that also includes the launch of the Hundred – sees a return to venues around the country. Tickets for the men’s internationals are set to go on sale, with a refund policy should crowds not be possible.
It is then followed by a winter in which England will travel to five destinations, with the ECB confirming on Wednesday the men’s white-ball side will play Pakistan in two Twenty20 internationals on 14 and 15 October.
This short trip – a payback of sorts for Pakistan touring the UK in 2020 – follows a white-ball tour to Bangladesh and precedes the T20 World Cup in India. The Test team will then travel to Australia for the Ashes series either side of Christmas, before a full tour of the Caribbean in 2022.
Security concerns have meant that no team from England has travelled to Pakistan since late 2005 bar a visit by MCC earlier this year. But with the country now playing host to international cricket, as well as the Pakistan Super League, these have abated.
The trip sits outside of the Future Tours Programme but is payback of sorts after Pakistan were one of four boards to send teams to the UK during the pandemic-afflicted summer. Wasim Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive, hopes it will “open the door” for a fuller tour the following winter.
He said: “The ECB’s confirmation further endorses Pakistan as safe and secure. Importantly, this announcement speaks volumes for the relationship we have with the ECB and I would like to thank the ECB for their strong will and desire to make this short tour a reality.”
Meanwhile England have been granted automatic qualification as hosts for the women’s cricket competition at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. The six other highest-ranked T20 countries as of 1 April 2021 will also qualify directly for the eight-team tournament, with the remaining place being allocated to the winner of a qualifier. Women’s cricket is set to make a historic first appearance at the Games, which are scheduled to take place between 28 July and 8 August 2022.