Joe Root has echoed England head coach Chris Silverwood‘s openness to a possible tour of Pakistan. While conceding that it wasn’t his decision to make, Root said he personally looked forward to such an opportunity, especially after seeing the reaction of fans to the return of Test cricket to the country late last year.
“I’d love to go and visit Pakistan,” Root said at the end of the drawn second Test against Pakistan in Southampton. “It would be a great opportunity to go and play there personally. Unfortunately, it’s not my decision to make, but it looks a wonderful country to go and play cricket in. The wickets look nice and flat, which will be a nice change to what we have just played on here.
“You could see the emotion of everyone back in Pakistan when Test cricket was there back-end of last year. Also, speaking to a few of the players, how much it meant to them as well and they really appreciated being able to play back in Pakistan too. We’ve such a busy schedule already with backlogging due to Covid, it will be interesting to see how that would work.”
As such, according to the FTP, England are scheduled to tour Pakistan next in 2022, but it became a topic of discussion during the first Test at Old Trafford earlier this month when, speaking on Sky Sports during the first day’s play, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan expressed hope that England could visit Pakistan for a reciprocal tour. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Khan hoped England could send over their T20 side, or at least that the ECB could send over its developmental Lions side – which he had pushed for even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck world cricket.
Silverwood had responded positively to the suggestion, saying he would personally “have no problem going“.
On Monday, Pakistan great Wasim Akram had expressed similar sentiments to Khan, while speaking on Sky Sports. Given that Pakistan had toured England in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Akram felt a reciprocal visit was only fair. “You boys owe Pakistan cricket, and the country, a lot, with the boys coming over here. They’ve been here almost two-and-a-half months in the biosecure environment,” Akram said. “So if everything goes well, England should tour Pakistan. I promise you they’ll get looked after on and off the field there and every game will be a packed house.”
England haven’t toured Pakistan since 2005-06, largely due to security reasons. The 2009 attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore led to a cessation of regular international cricket in Pakistan, with the national team playing most of its “home” games in the UAE since then. Big cricket has slowly returned to Pakistan in the last few years, with a steady increase in visits from international sides, culminating in Sri Lanka’s December 2019 tour to play the first Test matches in the country in over a decade.