Chris Silverwood, the England coach, believes his team are ready to play cricket in Pakistan amid talk that a return visit should be one of the pay-offs for getting this summer’s Test series played.
England have not toured Pakistan since 2005 because of the security concerns that followed the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, with the United Arab Emirates acting as a neutral venue during this time.
But with Pakistan sending a team to the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic – their squad arrived on 29 June and have been in lockdown ever since – there is an onus on the England and Wales Cricket Board to return the favour.
Wasim Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief executive, told Sky Sports that while England are not due to tour the country until 2022, it is hoped a short trip – either a T20 series or a visit by the England Lions – can be arranged beforehand.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have played Test series in Pakistan in the past 12 months, while the Pakistan Super League has also been staged in the country since 2017.
Silverwood believes England are close to following suit.
He said: “I think we are getting there. Personally I would have no problem with that. I’ve never been to Pakistan so it would be nice to go and have a look.
“I know the batsmen would look forward to batting on their wickets. For me it’s great that it is back as a topic of conversation.”
Silverwood reflected on a mixed bag for his bowlers on the first day of the first Test, having reduced Pakistan to 53 for two at lunch, thanks to wickets from Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer, yet seeing the tourists reach a far healthier 139 for two from 49 overs by the time bad light stopped play.
While Babar Azam lived up to his billing before the series with a finessed 69 not out from 100 balls, that opener Shan Masood was still there at the close unbeaten on 46 from 152 was a source of frustration given two missed chances by Jos Buttler behind the stumps.
Dom Bess was the bowler thwarted on both occasions, seeing a tough catch behind shelled when Masood was on 45 and then, three hours later after rain with the left-hander yet to add to his score, an easier stumping was fumbled.
Silverwood said: “No one means to miss them. We’ll continue to give a lot of support, as we do for every member of our squad. Jos is very capable of doing something very special for us tomorrow.
“For us, he’s been tidy there more often than not. We’ll keep giving him the support he needs because we all know he’s capable of special feats.
“I thought we started off very well. We asked a lot of questions but after lunch we weren’t so good. We bowled too many four balls, gave the momentum back to Pakistan and they capitalised. The challenge I’ve thrown out there tonight, if that happens again, and it will do, how do we drag momentum back?”
Masood, who had only one half-century to show from four Tests against England, said: “The game is pretty funny. You get an element of fortune every now and then and there are times when the tide goes the other way. You just try to stay in and whatever chances you get, you try to capitalise.
“England has always been a place for world cricketers to prove their mettle. We’re looking forward to that. We are very satisfied with the start we’ve got and we hope we can consolidate this position.”