England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had taken the first step towards resuming cricket activities in the country after announcing that its players would be returning to training under strict guidelines. ECB, who is struggling to overcome a financial crisis with the English cricket season on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, is all set to host Pakistan in July for a three-match Test and T20I series in a bio-secure environment.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan said on Saturday that the PCB has agreed ‘in principle’ to send the national team to tour England after a lengthy teleconference and briefing by ECB.

“We had a very detailed and comprehensive discussion with the ECB on Friday regarding the tour and PCB has now agreed in principle to send our cricket team to England in July,” Wasim said.

During the discussions held via video link, it was agreed that Pakistan would play the matches behind closed doors at grounds which have hotels inside the ground.

The PCB chief said 25 players will travel to England on four chartered flights in the first week of July and that the series will be played behind closed doors after the players have completed their quarantine periods.

Wasim said he will brief Test captain Azhar Ali and ODI and T20 captain Babar Azam on the tour next week, adding that all of the players will be briefed fully on England’s preparations for the tour.

He insisted that the health and safety of players would be paramount and no player would be forced to go to England. “If a player doesn’t want to go, we will accept their decision and take no disciplinary action,” Khan said, adding, however, that based on his information, every player wants to join the tour.

He also said clearance would be sought from the government before going on tour.

Wasim said the safety measures to be adopted for the series include matches to be played in empty stadiums, Pakistan to travel to London via chartered flight, players to be tested for the virus and quarantined if necessary.

“Manchester and Southampton will be the likely venues for the Test series and the ECB will announce a third venue soon,” Khan said.

“Biosecurity arrangements will be made by the host country and medical staff will remain with our team throughout the tour. We will test all our players and regular temperature checks will be ensured. It’s very important that cricket is revived during these challenging times,” he added.

Wasim also said he is confident that Australia and England both will tour Pakistan in near future.

“At the moment our focus is England tour and we want to help ECB. And I think cricket fraternity should help each other in these tough times, we will discuss the possibility of England cricket team touring Pakistan in 2022. We already hosted the entire PSL V in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in recent times and we are hopeful for Australia and England touring Pakistan in 2021 and 2022 respectively,” he concluded.