Dubai lined up as venue to pre­pare for win­ter tours

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket - By Nick Hoult CHIEF CRICKET COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.

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