London: Teams touring England in the 2021 season will rely solely on intra-squad matches as preparation for their international fixtures after it was announced on Tuesday that planned warm-up matches against county sides had been scrapped.
England's congested home campaign starts with two Tests against New Zealand in June, with Sri Lanka and Pakistan then arriving for limited-overs matches before attention switches again to red-ball cricket with a five-match series against India.
New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan all had county fixtures scheduled, while India 'A' were meant to play two four-day matches against India in England.
The 'A' tour, however, has now been postponed and India will instead travel with an expanded squad.
Their warm-up schedule will now consist of two four-day intra-squad games at venues yet to be confirmed.
In addition to the England series, India are also set to face New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton in June.
A reminder of our summer ahead 👇 pic.twitter.com/NzQLhscky9
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) April 13, 2021
The new arrangements reflect the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) determined to deliver "the safest possible environment" this season.
That follows last year's successful return of international cricket in England following its enforced suspension due to Covid-19 when the West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia played intra-squad, rather than county, matches.
"We are looking forward to staging a memorable summer of men's and women's international cricket when fans are set to return to venues," said ECB chief executive Tom Harrison in a statement.
"Ensuring the safest possible environment for international cricket is our first priority and we are appreciative for the understanding of our fellow boards.
"We look forward to welcoming a men's India A tour at a later date after this summer and when restrictions have eased."
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Catch all the live updates and scores from Day 4 of second Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
The team, which departs for Dhaka on 16 May, will play an intra-squad practice game on 21 May after a short quarantine.
The Indian team is scheduled to play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Southampton from 18-22 June before taking on England in a five-Test series.