England headache here to stay with pileup set to span next two winters


ngland face an extreme fixture pile up over the next two winters as they look to fulfil all commitments affected by Covid-19, such as the postponed ODI series in South Africa last November. 

England’s men are yet to see any cricket cancelled outright by the pandemic, leading to a backlog of fixtures over the next couple of years. 

The only current outstanding bilateral series is three ODIs against South Africa, and they appear likely to be pushed back to September 2022, close to two years after they were originally scheduled.

England travelled to Cape Town to play three T20s and three ODIs in November, only for the tour to be aborted at the halfway stage when the tourists lost confidence in the biosecure bubble at their base at the Vineyard Hotel following positive tests for Covid-19 among players from both teams (England’s were subsequently proved to be false positives) and hotel workers. 

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The three unplayed ODIs are part of the ICC’s ODI Super League, which determines qualification for the 2023 World Cup. That tournament, combined with broadcast and commercial revenue for the home side, means there is a determination that the matches must be played, not simply cancelled.

When to play them is not simple, however. 

There is a slim possibility that they could take place in early 2022, but England’s schedule this coming winter is already packed. 

At the end of the 2021 home summer, the T20 team will travel to Pakistan and Bangladesh as preparation for the T20 World Cup in India in November. The Test squad then have a five-match Ashes series straddling Christmas, finishing in Perth in mid-January. 

The winter finishes with a tour of the Caribbean. First, the T20 squad (likely without Test stars, because the Ashes will finish just days before departure for the Caribbean) play a five-match series in late January and February, before a three-Test series in March. 

With Australian borders likely to remain closed for some time, the West Indies series is likely to be the earliest opportunity for England fans to watch their team overseas. 

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