The tour, part of the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP), was going to be used as preparation for the men’s T20 World Cup which was due to take place in Australia in October and November. They were due to play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s which have now been postponed to the start of next year.
While there was a willingness between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to keep the series on in some capacity, the Covid-19 situation in India has taken the matter beyond their control. India has seen a spike in daily cases reported, with 56,282 new cases on Wednesday (6 August). There have been over 41,500 deaths across the country.
The two sides were due to play a five-match Test series at the start of 2021 and now both boards are looking at reworking next year’s schedule to fit in all three formats, which will also need to include an English tour to Sri Lanka to play the Test series that was abandoned in March due to the pandemic. Should that get the green light, schedule and coronavirus dependent, the tour would run from late January to late March. India would then tour England in the summer of 2021 for just five Tests, as per the original FTP.
There remains the option of playing the series – or at least part of it – out in the United Arab Emirates if the situation in India does not improve. That would follow the lead of the 2020 Indian Premier League, which was postponed earlier this year and will be hosted by the UAE, running from the middle of September to the start of November. All options remain on the table.
ECB’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom Harrison, said: “Now that we have clarity regarding the postponement of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, it enables us to work with other Boards to progress the vital task of optimising the international schedules in the challenging circumstances that we have all been having to address with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“International cricket between India and England is a highlight of the cricketing calendar and we look forward to working with the BCCI to firm-up the schedules for these eagerly anticipated tours as soon as possible.”
Jay Shah, Honorary Secretary, BCCI Secretary, added: “The BCCI and ECB are working closely to finalise the schedule as we move towards the resumption of cricket. The India-England series is one of the most anticipated contests in world cricket. The two teams compete hard on the field and provide some riveting moments.
“I am pleased with the way BCCI and ECB have managed the situation. The rescheduled tour is also being redesigned in a way to accommodate both red and white-ball format and will now be a comprehensive one.