Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s chief selector and head coach, has insisted that the PCB has not asked for a reciprocal tour as part of their agreement to play in England.
A 29-man Pakistan squad is expected to arrive in England at the start of July for a three-Test tour that is set to be played behind closed doors and will commit the touring players to several weeks in something approaching bio-secure conditions.
But while Misbah conceded that his side will be “at a bit of a disadvantage” going into the series, he was adamant that the wider good of the game is best served by a resumption in international cricket.
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England have not toured Pakistan since 2005-06. Security concerns have seen subsequent series between the sides played in either the UK or the UAE though there were growing hopes, before the Covid-19 pandemic, that England would return to Pakistan in late 2022.
“It’s important for cricket boards that cricket starts now,” Misbah said. “That will raise revenue which will be reinvested in cricket. If we don’t play, obviously, we will be in trouble.
“For the development of this game, international cricket has to take place. Otherwise, it will be difficult for smaller and weaker cricket nations to go forward. It’s important for bigger nations that cricket is revised now, too.
“It is not in our minds that the ECB has to do something for us in return for us coming. The most important thing is to re-start international cricket.
“Obviously, in the bigger picture, we want not just the ECB but all cricketing nations to help each other so this game can grow. It’s important for the cricket fans in Pakistan and also for Pakistan cricket that countries start touring Pakistan. But we are not expecting anything in return for this tour.”
By the time the series starts, England will have just played three Tests against West Indies and Pakistan will not have played competitively since March. Furthermore, Pakistan will not have the luxury of any official warm-up games – though they will play inter-squad matches – and have been obliged to cancel their training camp in Lahore due to rising cases of Covid-19 in the region.
But Misbah suggested that the month his squad will have in the UK before the series begins should provide adequate time to prepare.
“It is a little bit of a disadvantage,” Misbah said. “But we believe in the resumption of cricket on the condition that the environment is safe and secure. That’s why we did not hold a camp in Lahore. The situation was really getting worse there and we thought securing the players’ health and safety was important. So we thought we should hold on and start in England where the [Covid-19] situation is getting better and better.
“I’m hoping if we arrive at least four weeks before the series, we can get the time for preparation. That’s why we are bringing 29 players and mostly these players are for the longer version. Everyone needs to work really hard in those four weeks. Especially Yasir Shah because spinners need to bowl a lot to get back into rhythm, especially legspinners.
“It’s really difficult for me to tell exactly where the players are [in terms of fitness] at the moment because, from March, everybody is on their own. Obviously we are having online sessions and information from them, but we don’t have any evidence because we not practicing together.
“So yes, we have a slight disadvantage. It will be a challenge for us, and Yasir also, to get back to his best. He needs to work very hard. But we are confident. We have a good team. If we can adjust quickly to these conditions and this situation we can perform well. We can do really well in England.”
While Misbah said there were “no concerns” about the dangers posed by Covid-19 in the UK among his squad, he did concede that Haris Sohail had declined to tour due to anxiety over the virus.
“It was Haris’ family,” Misbah said. “They were having concerns. They were not convinced. He has to respect the family’s decision and he pulled out of this series. The others are fine. They are ready to tour England.”