Dubai lined up as venue to prepare for winter tours
England are in the process of setting up a winter training camp in Dubai to prepare for Test series in Sri Lanka and India after the new year.
The team do not have any Test cricket formally scheduled, but they are expected to go to Sri Lanka in January to play two Tests that were cancelled earlier this year.
They are then due to play a Test series against India in February. The Board of Control for Cricket in India confirmed last week the series would go ahead, although the number of Tests and whether there will be a white-ball element has still to be decided.
England are also due to play a one-day series in South Africa in December, but this looks increasingly likely to be postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving them with no cricket this year after the end of the Australia one-day series on Sept 16.
Instead, it is understood talks are continuing about a trip to Dubai in December, where England would play intra-squad, four-day matches against the Lions in conditions similar to those they can expect to face in Sri Lanka and India.
The United Arab Emirates is also a viable alternative venue if the India series has to be shifted due to the coronavirus situation.
“It is nice to know that some form of preparation is being considered ahead of the winter tours if they take place and to give us a good chance of competing if it is in subcontinent conditions,” said Joe Root, the Test captain.
“Some guys will want to get back into county cricket and play as much as they can. Once that is over there will be a lot of onus put on individuals to make sure they are ready when Test cricket is back.
“I’m sure we will have an opportunity to prepare as a team, hopefully in conditions and environment similar to where we will be playing Test cricket.”
Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley have not played Test cricket in Asia and spinner Dom Bess also lacks experience in subcontinental conditions, so the move to prepare in Dubai is sensible, especially as there is likely to be little opportunity to play warm-up games against local opposition due to Covid protocols.
The facilities in Dubai are among the best in the world. The International Cricket Council’s academy has pitches that replicate most surfaces around the world and there will be no problem securing hotel accommodation that can provide a level of biosecurity. The Indian Premier League starts in the UAE next month, with eight teams locked down in different hotels.