KARACHI: England will playing Test cricket in Pakistan after the gap of 17 years in Rawalpindi from December 1.
England are coming on the back of a seven-match T20 series win in Pakistan earlier this year before they got the better of the same opponents in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne this month.
Having beaten Pakistan in cricket’s shortest format, England hopes to maintain the upper hand in red-ball cricket.
Ben Stokes and his men are in the middle of a week-long camp at the Abu Dhabi Cricket and Sports Hub and will fly out to Pakistan by the end of the week after a three-day warm-up match against the England Lions at the Tolerance Oval in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
England’s warm-up match also coincides with the opening day of the Abu Dhabi T10 which kicks off with a two-match card at the adjoining Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Ben Stokes, who spent time batting in the nets on Tuesday, is expected to stay out of the three-day warm-up, leaving Ollie Pope to lead the side in his absence.
The England Test captain is resting a troublesome left knee that he had to manage while playing a grueling nine T20Is in the space of a month, culminating in England winning the T20 World Cup.
Veteran seam bowler James Anderson – the only member of the England squad who featured in the last Test series in Pakistan in 2005 – said he is “excited” to return to the country.
Anderson, England’s leading wicket-taker in Tests with 667 scalps, did not play in the series that his team lost 2-0.
“It’s been a long time and I didn’t play in those matches, but looking forward to an exciting Tests series,” Anderson said after a training session in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“We have had the perfect preparation as we head to Pakistan. The facilities are great [in Abu Dhabi] with the number of pitches here and we are enjoying the weather from the time we arrived.
“It’s exciting for us having not been there for quite some time, and I think I’m probably the only player in this squad who has done a Test tour to Pakistan. I think the fans and players over there would be very excited to see us play.”
Anderson, 40, hasn’t put a timeline on his career but believes staying in good shape and enjoy the longest format of the game keeps him motivated to play for England.
“The records don’t stay in my mind at all to be honest,” Anderson said.
“I still love playing the game and I still want to be involved in this Test team as well. For me, it’s just a case of staying in the best shape and help this team win every game.”
Anderson wants the England Test team to do what the white-ball side did at the T20 World Cup in Australia. “For the majority of the guys who were involved in that T20 World Cup will surely be inspired to do just as well in the Tests series,” Anderson said.
“We obviously want to continue with that sort of surroundings at the moment. We started to do something special in the Test format in the summer and we would try that again during this series.
“We don’t know really how we are going to do facing Pakistan in an away series but we’ll keep an open mind and make sure every box ticks.”
The first Test will be played in Rawalpindi from December 1. Multan will stage the second Test from December 9 before Karachi hosts the final match from December 17.