Exclusive: ECB eyes two-Test series for England in 2021 if World Test Championship final is postponed

Nick Hoult
·2 min read
Captain William Porterfield of Ireland is caught out by Jonny Bairstow of England off the bowling of Chris Woakes of England during day three of the Specsavers Test Match between England and Ireland at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 26, 2019 in London, England - Julian Finney /Julian Finney 
Captain William Porterfield of Ireland is caught out by Jonny Bairstow of England off the bowling of Chris Woakes of England during day three of the Specsavers Test Match between England and Ireland at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 26, 2019 in London, England - Julian Finney /Julian Finney

England could play an extra two match Test series next summer if the World Test Championship final is postponed.

Telegraph Sport understands the England & Wales Cricket Board is exploring the possibility of a two Test series in June-July in addition to their scheduled series against India.

It will only happen in the event of the final of the World Test championship being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic wrecking the international schedule. At least six series have been postponed so far. 

Lord’s had been identified as the venue for the first ever World Test championship final contested by the two top ranked teams in the world and the International Cricket Council recently insisted it is still planned to take place but doubts have been growing for several months over the viability of the final.

It has left the ECB exploring a contingency option, with the potential for an additional two-Test series scheduled outside the future tours programme with New Zealand the likely opponents, although Pakistan and Ireland have also been approached. This would be on top of the five-Test series planned against India. The extra series would bring in vital revenue for the Test match grounds, who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Edgbaston, for example, is not due to host a Test next summer while Lord’s will miss out on its usual two Test matches if the final of the World Test championship is postponed. 

The ECB under new chairman, Ian Watmore, are building a strong relationship with Pakistan and the England team are close to confirming a short three-match T20 series in Pakistan next January, their first tour there for 15 years.

While next summer is still uncertain, there has been confirmation of England’s tour to South Africa next month. 

England will play three T20s and three ODIs in Cape Town and Paarl between November 27 and December 9. England will leave on November 16 and spend ten days in quarantine in Cape Town, but will be allowed out of their hotel to train at the Western Province Cricket Club. They will play three intra-squad practice matches — two T20s and one 50 over game — before their first T20 against South Africa at Newlands. 

England will take an expanded squad of around 24 players to South Africa because they will not be able to fly in replacements at short notice in the event of injury or illness. The South African government has waived the strict quarantine protocols that would have forced the players to stay inside their hotel rooms for two weeks.