England will make their first visit to Pakistan in 16 years when they play two back-to-back Twenty20 internationals in Karachi next October.
A limited-overs tour in early 2021 had been proposed, but scheduling issues forced the England and Wales Cricket Board to put plans for a return to the country for the first time since 2005 on hold.
Despite difficulties posed by the global coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan played three Test matches, three one-day internationals and three T20s in England this summer.
We are heading to Pakistan! 🏴🇵🇰🏏
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 18, 2020
The proposed January dates would have clashed with England’s scheduled matches against Sri Lanka and India, and the ECB did not wish to mark the occasion with a weakened squad.
England will arrive in Karachi on October 12, with the T20 fixtures set for October 14 and 15 before both teams depart for India ahead of the T20 World Cup.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: “It’s a real pleasure to announce that the England men’s IT20 squad will be playing in Pakistan in October 2021.
“This will be the first time since 2005 that an England team has toured Pakistan and as such it represents a significant moment for both nations.
“As was demonstrated this summer, we have a strong relationship with PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and ECB is delighted to be able to play our part in ensuring the safe return of international cricket to this wonderful nation of passionate cricket fans.
“As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount.
“We are working closely with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic.
“The two-match series will serve as ideal preparation for the England team leading into an ICC men’s T20 World Cup taking place in India during October and November 2021.”
International cricket in Pakistan was put on hold in 2009 after gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus during the second Test in Lahore.
England have subsequently played Pakistan on neutral territory in the United Arab Emirates, but Pakistan indicated any future meeting must be on home soil.
PCB chief executive Wasim Khan hopes England’s T20 fixtures will “open the door for both Test and white-ball tours in the 2022-23 season”.
He said: “The October 2021 T20Is will allow the leading England cricketers to access and examine the world-class arrangements we will put together, which will give them further encouragement and confidence to not only return in 2022-23 but also express their interest in the Pakistan Super League, which has grown to become one of the top leagues in the world.
Ehsan Mani says PCB fulfilled another commitment
— PCB Media (@TheRealPCBMedia) November 18, 2020
“England’s visit to Pakistan for the 14 and 15 October 2021 T20Is will provide further lift to our passionate fans, both in Pakistan and across the globe.
“The enhanced progress made over the last two years has been down to nurturing relationships with various cricket boards and international players, as well as building trust and confidence.
“The ECB’s confirmation further endorses Pakistan as safe and secure. Importantly, this announcement speaks volumes for the relationship that we have with the ECB and I would like to thank the ECB for their strong will and desire to make this short tour a reality.
“England’s visit in 2021 is an outcome of the PCB’s efforts and hard work to ensure Pakistan cricket continues to move in the right direction.”