(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –England’s Test tour of Sri Lanka, which was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be rescheduled to January 2021. That is what SLC CEO Ashley de Silva has suggested anyway, though the ECB said nothing had been confirmed*. SLC is currently attempting to reschedule a number of inbound mid-year tours, all of which have either already been postponed, or are at serious risk from the pandemic.
England spent around 10 days in Sri Lanka in March, and even completed one three-day warm-up match, before Covid-19 forced the second practice game to be called off midway through. They were supposed to play two Tests, in Galle and Colombo, as part of the World Test Championship (WTC).
SLC is keen to set new dates down for this tour as soon as possible, aware perhaps that several other boards will be competing for England’s time once cricket recommences. According to the current FTP, England are due begin a five-Test tour of India in January but that could be pushed back to February.
“We are in the process of rescheduling the tours that have been postponed,” de Silva told Daily News. “England has been already rescheduled for the month of January next year but the dates have not been finalised.
“At the same time, we are also looking at exploring the possibility of rescheduling postponed tours and looking at the windows which are available and alternatives too. South Africa is one of the tours which we are looking at rescheduling. We are engaged in discussions with the member countries and see how it can be planned out.”
In response, a spokesperson for the ECB said that talks over England’s return were still in progress.
“Planning for England men’s winter programme continues,” they said. “The ECB and SLC are in discussions aimed at finding a solution for the two-match Test series in Sri Lanka, which was cancelled in March due to the implications around Covid-19. These discussions will progress before a solution and an agreed schedule can be confirmed.”
South Africa were due to visit Sri Lanka for three ODIs and three T20s in June, shortly before India had been scheduled to play three one-dayers and three T20s on the island. Bangladesh, meanwhile, had a three-Test tour of Sri Lanka set for July and August – those matches also forming part of the WTC.
“There are also two other tours which are scheduled to take place, with India and Bangladesh due to tour Sri Lanka in June-July and July-August respectively,” De Silva said. “We will explore the possibility of playing those two tours in another week or two.”
SLC will be especially desperate to ensure the India and England tours take place at some point, as those represent the highest value for broadcasters. With all cricket boards scrambling to reschedule their big tours, however, it remains to be seen if Sri Lanka can successfully accommodate all the home matches they had planned, or whether games will have to be dropped from the schedule.