England’s overseas cricket plans continue to be affected by Covid-19, with next year’s trip to the Netherlands pushed back to 2022 and uncertainty regarding their post-Christmas series against Sri Lanka and India.
The men’s 50-over side were due to play three matches against Netherlands next May – their first full senior tour to the country – as part of the ICC Super League that will determine qualification for the 2023 World Cup. However following talks between the Royal Dutch Cricket Association (KNCB) and the England and Wales Cricket Board, the tour has been pushed back by 12 months because of “the prospect of having to play with hardly any or no spectators at all”.
Roland Lefebvre, the former Glamorgan and Somerset seamer who is now high-performance manager for KNCB, said: “These matches would have been the biggest event in the Netherlands since the Videocon series in 2004 when India, Pakistan and Australia visited Amsterdam. The prospect of playing the world champions in a full house is exciting and we look forward to welcoming the team back in 2022. We are very grateful for the cooperation we received from the ECB to make this happen.”
While a provisional home schedule has been announced for 2021, there are no official dates for England’s two-Test series in Sri Lanka in January, a trip that was postponed this year at the start of the pandemic.
The away fixtures against India that follow from February onwards – now cut from five Tests to four plus eight white-ball internationals – is also the subject of debate behind the scenes regarding the location and the prospect of a second wave of Covid-19 in the subcontinent. Sourav Ganguly, India’s board president, remains determined to host the tour on home soil in advance of bringing the 2021 Indian Premier League back following this year’s staging of the lucrative tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
News of a vaccine for the virus brings with it the possibility of elite sport leaving its biosecure bubbles and returning to normality, however Eoin Morgan, speaking before Friday’s first T20 international in South Africa, still envisages a delay.
England’s white-ball captain said: “It’s still going to be a considerable amount of time before the people who need it get it. We are well down the pecking order of people that should be prioritised, certainly within the first six months. I don’t see this changing before the start of our summer.”