Moeen Ali says England returning to Pakistan is ‘massive moment for cricket going forward’

Moeen Ali says England returning to Pakistan for the first time in 16 years is “a massive moment for cricket going forward”.

England will play two T20 internationals in Karachi in October 2021 – their first tour of the nation since 2005-06 – in the lead up to the T20 World Cup in India which starts later that month.

Pakistan had been starved of international cricket since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, with the nation subsequently playing their home games principally in the United Arab Emirates.

However, England will now be the latest of a number of teams to return to the country and all-rounder Ali, who played in the Pakistan Super League for Multan Sultans earlier this year, is excited for the tour.

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“It is massive. Having been there not so long ago in the PSL, it was an amazing experience to play there,” Moeen said on Wednesday.

“I’m sure Pakistan have gone all out to host that and we can’t wait to go there in the future. I think it is a massive moment for cricket going forward.”

Moeen believes it is right for England to tour Pakistan after the Asian side travelled to the United Kingdom for Test matches and T20 internationals this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But the 33-year-old, who is of Pakistani descent, feels England would always have returned there eventually.

“Pakistan and West Indies were amazing last year, coming over and going through the bubble after the coronavirus pandemic with the news that cricket was on the edge. They helped massively,” added Ali.

“I think it was going to happen anyway but I think it’s right that we go back after such a long time. One, for the game itself but also for Pakistan and cricket in that country.”

Earlier on Wednesday when the tour was announced, ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “It’s a real pleasure to announce that the England men’s IT20 squad will be playing in Pakistan in October 2021. This will be the first time since 2005 that an England team has toured Pakistan and as such it represents a significant moment for both nations.

“As was demonstrated this summer, we have a strong relationship with PCB and ECB is delighted to be able to play our part in ensuring the safe return of international cricket to this wonderful nation of passionate cricket fans.

“As always, the safety and welfare of our players and staff will be paramount. We are working closing with the PCB to ensure all the necessary plans are in place, especially concerning the anticipated levels of security around the team, the proposed travel protocols and of course the situation regarding the fast-moving and ever-changing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Harrison’s Pakistan Cricket Board counterpart, Wasim Khan, added: “England’s visit to Pakistan will provide a further lift to our passionate fans, both in Pakistan and across the globe.

“The nation has waited patiently for cricket to return sustainably to Pakistan and the 2021 tours by South Africa, New Zealand and England will only ensure international cricket is played uninterruptedly.

“The enhanced progress made over the last two years has been down to nurturing relationships with various cricket boards and international players, as well as building trust and confidence.

“The ECB’s confirmation further endorses Pakistan as safe and secure. Importantly, this announcement speaks volumes for the relationship that we have with the ECB and I would like to thank the ECB for their strong will and desire to make this short tour a reality.”

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