England first Test in Rawalpindi could be moved: Contingency plans are being made to move England’s first Test against Pakistan if political unrest in Rawalpindi continues. England has not played Test cricket in the country since 2005, largely due to security concerns in the region, but returned in September to play a seven-match T20 series for the first time in 17 years. The assassination of former prime minister and cricket great Imran Khan, who was shot in the leg at a protest rally last month, has heightened tensions and anti-government protests. Khan has asked supporters to continue their march to the capital Islamabad, the twin city of Rawalpindi, and talks are ongoing between the England and Wales Cricket Board and its Pakistani counterpart.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also regularly consulted, although the most important one may be with trusted security adviser Reg Dickson. While the PA news agency understands that the ECB is currently operating on the assumption that the current itinerary will go ahead as planned, other options are being developed. Given that the arrangements for Multan and Karachi have already been vetted and approved, the second test in either of these two cities seems to be the most likely plan B. Karachi, which is scheduled to play the final Test between December 17 and 21, seems to be a better option. Mark Wood, who was in Australia on England’s triumphant T20 World Cup campaign when news of the shooting broke, admitted the development had raised concerns.
We were looked after very well (during the T20 tour), but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried because you’re going back there when there’s a problem,” he said earlier this month. “Whatever happens is for the people above me to decide. But obviously, when you are going back there as a cricketer and there is unrest in the country, it is disturbing.” Captain Ben Stokes made it clear how important Dickson’s advice will be. Trust him 100 percent on this tour because he is a man you trust with your life.” I am scheduled to reach Islamabad on November 26 after the training camp and warm-up match against England Lions.