SEVEN MORE PAKISTANI CRICKETERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
KARACHI: Seven more Pakistan cricketers tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, raising the total to 10 of the squad to tour England. Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan remained confident the tour will go ahead as planned. Pakistan will leave on Sunday, as scheduled, for England, minus the 10 players and one staff member who have to selfisolate at home. None of them are showing symptoms.
An extended squad of 29 players was chosen for the three Tests and three T20s, and Khan said it was fortunate that the entire Test squad barring Mohd Rizwan tested negative. After quarantine, Rizwan should be available for the Test series due to begin in August. “The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on June 28,” Khan said on a video call.
The seven infected players were fast bowlers Wahab Riaz, Mohd Hasnain and Imran Khan, wicketkeeper Mohd Rizwan, opener Fakhar Zaman, allrounder Mohd Hafeez, and spinner Kashif Bhatti. Also tested positive was a staff member, masseur Malang Ali. From the first batch of testing, players Haider Ali, Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf tested positive.
Pakistan had four reserve players and Khan said coach Misbah-ul-Haq will get them tested also this week. As soon as the 10 cricketers and one staff member test negative, they will be flown to England on a commercial airline, Khan said.
The rest will gather in Lahore on Thursday and will undergo a second round of testing on Friday. Those who remain negative will leave for Manchester on a chartered flight on Sunday. Within 24 hours of arriving in England, they will be tested by the England and Wales Cricket Board medical panel.
The Pakistan squad will undergo testing at least five times before the first Test in early August.
The latest positive tests shouldn’t stop the tour, England director of cricket Ashley Giles said on Tuesday. Giles, speaking before the seven new positives, said the situation was a “concern” but the tour was not currently in doubt. “We are far enough away from the start of the Test series to worry about that too much at the moment,” Giles said on a video call. “This is the difference with international sport. We need to get our opposition in (the) country. Anything that puts that at risk or in danger is clearly a problem.”