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Australia must tour England for cricket’s health, says Langer

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MELBOURNE: Australia must tour England for the ‘health of world cricket’ and let their top players compete in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) if it goes ahead, head coach Justin Langer has said.

Australia are slated to tour England for limited overs series in September despite the logistical challenges posed by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I think we have to go to England. There are lots of challenges, of course, but we have to find solutions to make sure that can happen if possible,” Langer said in comments published by the Daily Telegraph on Thursday. “That’s my view. I think for the health of world cricket. If things out of control happen and we cant end up going, at least we can say we’ve done everything in our power to make it happen.”

After a 117-day hiatus, international cricket returned on Wednesday as England and West Indies played a rain-hit opening day in Southampton in the first of three Tests.

However, much of the global schedule remains up in the air due to Covid-19 including the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, due to start in Australia in October, and the IPL, which has been delayed for months.

The T20 World Cup is expected to be postponed due to the challenges of hosting 16 international teams amid the pandemic, and the Indian board hopes to use that window for the IPL.

With India having committed to touring for a four-Test series in the Australian summer, Langer said Australia should allow theirs top players like Steve Smith and Pat Cummins to play in the IPL, even if it means they might miss the start of the domestic season.

“I think we have to. Talking frankly, Langer said. “Ill always look for win-win situations and hopefully we do that when we get some clarity on whats happening with the schedule.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Langer said Australia had to play its part in getting cricket moving again, even if it meant enduring quarantine, bio-security restrictions and time away from family.

Australia’s limited-overs series scheduled for this month in England was postponed because of the coronavirus, and September has been raised as an alternative.

Cricket Australia, which has laid off 15 percent of its staff during the pandemic, is also desperate to host the money-spinning India Test series.

“As much as we’d like India to come over here, I think we need to reciprocate that with England if we can,” the former opening batsman said.

Langer believed releasing Australia’s big names to join the IPL — whose revised dates are yet to be announced — was also essential as a goodwill gesture, to make sure India go ahead with their Test tour.

“I hear a different story about the IPL’s plans every few days. It varies. So until there’s some clarity and we can work out how it affects the domestic season, how it affects our players, how it works with quarantine… there’s a lot of considerations here,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020

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