England are growing more confident that their entire men’s international summer schedule against West Indies, Pakistan and Australia will go ahead.
West Indies could arrive as early as June 9, ahead of a proposed First Test on July 8, while Australia’s visit at the end of the summer — which had previously been described as “highly unlikely” — has now become a serious possibility, following a change of tack by Cricket Australia.
The ECB are in ongoing discussions with all three relevant cricket boards, with the trio of proposed tours being described as “hopeful, positive and in a good place”.
One major stumbling block remains the issue over the Government’s impending 14-day quarantine for those flying into the UK, although the ECB and Cricket West Indies are hopeful by creating the tourists’ own biosecure zone, they can train together as a squad during that lockdown period.
England’s first raft of bowlers returned to training on Thursday, with Sam Curran at Surrey, Chris Woakes at Edgbaston and Stuart Broad at Trent Bridge.
And Woakes has said he is hopeful of the July resumption of international cricket with England.
He said: “We just hope there’s going to be some form of cricket. It’s going to look different behind closed doors, but it will be nice to have some cricket and some form of normality.
“What that schedule exactly looks like, we don’t really know, but for everyone it would be a boost. We’ve all seen the projections which mean the ECB and game in general would be in a bit of trouble if weren’t to play any cricket this summer, so hopefully we can get some going.”
All seven of the proposed venues for England training are set to have been used at least once by the end of tomorrow. Jofra Archer (above) will be put through his paces for an hour at Sussex later on Friday, with Jimmy Anderson also resuming at Old Trafford. Durham duo Ben Stokes and Mark Wood will be put through their paces at their home ground tomorrow.
Woakes admitted after his opening session that he was feeling the effects of his first action for two months.
“I was a little bit sore this morning,” he said. “The first waddle to the toilet was a bit interesting and I woke up knowing I’d had a bowl. It was nice to get back out there and do a bit of training and get the ball back in hand.”
Plans are being put in place for West Indies to fly in close to one of the
proposed Test venues: the Ageas Bowl or Old Trafford, and remain on site for two weeks’ training, followed by warm-up matches between their own party, which could be as large as 30, although the proposals still need to be ratified by the Government.