Fast bowler Mohammad Amir and batsman Haris Sohail have withdrawn from Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming England tour. Amir, who had retired from Test cricket last year, and was thus only eligible for selection for the three-match T20I series, pulled out so that he could be present for the birth of his second child in August. It is understood that Sohail withdrew due to personal reasons.
The Pakistan players and the support staff are expected to arrive in England several weeks before the start of the first match to be able to train in the country, as well as complete the mandatory quarantine period for all foreigners coming to the UK. That means the side will spend over two months in England. The touring party will form a “bubble” where they will not interact with anyone outside of the group, and regular tests for Covid-19 will be conducted on the tour.
The three Tests and three T20Is will all be played behind closed doors Additionally, earlier this week, the ICC had approved the use of substitutes if a player showed symptoms of Covid-19 during a Test match. Players’ families will not be allowed to accompany them.
These particular arrangements likely played a significant part in Sohail’s decision to pull out of the tour. Sohail has usually been reluctant to tour without his family, and at the World Cup in England last year, he was given special permission by the PCB to have his family with him. Agreeing to the tour would have meant months away from his family, with the pandemic meaning exceptions were not possible this time.
Amir’s reasons were more straightforward. If he had been picked for the T20I series, scheduled to start in the last week of August, it would not have been possible for him to visit his wife and children while the series was ongoing.
The PCB said they would announce a 42-person touring team, with 28 players and 14 support staff to accompany them. Pakistan will be the second side to tour England since the Covid-19 pandemic, with West Indies set to play three Tests in England starting July 8. Three West Indies players – Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Darren Bravo – withdrew from that tour, citing concerns around the coronavirus.