Islamabad: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Christian Turner has said his goal since arriving in Pakistan had been to welcome the England Cricket Team back.
“16 years of waiting is over, and I am delighted that England will play here in 2021,” he said in a video message.
He added: “A lot of hard work behind the scenes has gone into making today’s news possible and I would like to thank everyone involved. International cricket needs the great stadiums of Pakistan full again – and this tour will do that. UkPakDosti Zindabad (long live UK-Pakistan friendship)!”
England’s men’s team will make their first visit to Pakistan in 16 years when they play two T20Is in Karachi on October 14 and 15, 2021.
England’s plans for a short stop-over in January had to be shelved due to a lack of space in a crowded itinerary, with England also due to tour Sri Lanka and India in the first months of 2021, and with several players committed to T20I franchise deals during the same period.
But following talks between the ECB and PCB, it has now been agreed that England will fit in the visit as part of their preparations for the T20 World Cup in India next year. The squad will arrive in Karachi on October 12, and both teams will depart for India on October 16 for the start of a tournament that is expected to culminate in mid-November.
England last toured Pakistan in 2005 when they played three Tests and five ODIs. The subsequent series between the two sides in 2012 and 2015 were played in the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said: “It’s a real pleasure to announce that the England men’s IT20 squad will be playing in Pakistan in October 2021. This will be the first time since 2005 that an England team has toured Pakistan and as such it represents a significant moment for both nations.
“As was demonstrated this summer, we have a strong relationship with PCB and ECB is delighted to be able to play our part in ensuring the safe return of international cricket to this wonderful nation of passionate cricket fans.
“As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount. We are working closely with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The two-match series will serve as ideal preparation for the England team leading into an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup taking place in India during October and November 2021.”
England had already been scheduled to play a Test series in Pakistan in late 2022, but the PCB had 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 fulfil their international fixtures in 2020, there was a sense that the ECB owed Pakistan a reciprocal favour. The ECB subsequently confirmed that a white-ball tour of Bangladesh in the same period is expected to go ahead as planned.
Wasim Khan, PCB Chief Executive, added: “I am delighted to confirm that England will be touring Pakistan to play two T20s in October 2021. This will be their first visit to Pakistan for 16 years and will open the door for both Test and White Ball tours in the 2022-23 season.
“The full-strength England squad will arrive at the back-end of our home white-ball series against New Zealand. We also expect Australia to visit Pakistan for their FTP commitment in early 2022, with England returning for both Test and White Ball tours in the 2022-23 season.
“The October 2021 T20Is will allow the leading England cricketers to access and examine the world-class arrangements we will put together, which will give them further encouragement and confidence to not only return in 2022-23 but also express their interest in the Pakistan Super League, which has grown to become one of the top leagues in the world.
“England’s visit to Pakistan for the 14 and 15 October 2021 T20Is will provide further lift to our passionate fans, both in Pakistan and across the globe. The nation has waited patiently for cricket to return sustainably to Pakistan and the 2021 tours by South Africa, New Zealand and England will only ensure international cricket is played uninterruptedly.
“The enhanced progress made over the last two years has been down to nurturing relationships with various cricket boards and international players, as well as building trust and confidence.
“The ECB’s confirmation further endorses Pakistan as safe and secure. Importantly, this announcement speaks volumes for the relationship that 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.
“England’s visit in 2021 is an outcome of the PCB’s efforts and hard work to ensure Pakistan cricket continues to move in the right direction.”