24 Jun

Ten Pakistan players have tested positive for Covid-19 but their tour to England in July and August remains “very much on track”, according to the chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

Three players from Pakistan’s 29-man squad received positive results on Monday and a further seven yesterday, as well as the team masseur. Despite these results, the planned series of three Test matches and three T20s is set to go ahead, but with players arriving in the UK at different times.

The full squad was due to leave Pakistan on Sunday on a chartered flight to the UK, but that will now depart with 19 of the 29-man squad. The other ten will fly on commercial flights once they have received two consecutive negative tests. Of the ten players who have tested positive, seven are predominantly white-ball players and as the T20 series is not due to start until late August, they can fly over later in July.

The 19 players who have tested negative are now in a biosecure hotel environment in Lahore and will undertake further Covid-19 tests tomorrow. If that is negative, they will be cleared to come to the UK, where the squad will go into quarantine for two weeks in Birmingham, but will be able to train using the facilities at Edgbaston.

The ten players who have tested positive are Shadab Khan, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hasnain, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan. They are all in self-isolation for 14 days. Four reserve players — Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz — have been called up for testing in case they need to join the squad.

“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on June 28,” Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, said. “Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practising immediately after they have been tested and given the all-clear when they arrive in England.”

England’s 30-strong training squad entered the biosecure bubble at the Ageas Bowl yesterday afternoon before the first Test on July 8. They were tested for Covid-19 on arrival and will spend 24 hours, until the test results arrive, predominantly alone in their rooms before training sessions tomorrow.

When the first Test begins, there will be about 250 people in the ground and everyone who enters the bubble, including media, hotel staff, caterers, players and support staff, will have to have an app on their phone, developed by Prenetics (a Covid-19 testing company) which will hold all the testing information.

It will use a traffic-light system to determine who is cleared to enter the environment. This health passport app is already being used by Premier League and other football clubs.

Ashley Giles, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, says that the biosecure environment will “not be a holiday camp” and players understand the need to abide by the protocols. He confirmed that players can leave and re-enter the bubble, meaning Joe Root will be able to rejoin the team after the birth of his second child next month.

“This is all about moving people from a safe environment to a safe environment,” Giles said. “We are all aware that during the series we are going to have to find opportunities to get guys out of the environment and get them home.”

Giles was cautiously optimistic that the limited-overs series against Australia in September would go ahead.

John Stephenson


#PCB #Coronavirus #Prenetics

* The email will not be published on the website.