The Chief Executive of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Wasim Khan ensured that they have a back-up plan after 10 out of 29 players tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of ‘bio-secure’ England tour.
Speaking to reporters via teleconference on Tuesday, Khan said that players, who had tested positive, have been provided strict Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs). He said that all the ten players have put themselves in quarantine on the advice of PCB’s medical team.
“At the moment, all the players have been advised to go into self-isolation immediately. We have asked them to follow all the provided SoPs strictly,” said Khan. “We will continue to monitor and support them, including conducting antibody tests, and as soon as they test negative twice, they will be flown to join the squad in England,” he added.
COVID-19 positive players include Fakhar Zaman, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, and Wahab Riaz, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali and Shadab Khan. Malang Ali, the team’s masseur, also tested positive for COVID-19.
To a query about England’s media reporting Pakistan’s tour being in danger after players tested COVID-19 positive, Khan said that seven out of 10 COVID-19 positive players are white-ball specialist, rest of the three are Test players but only Mohammad Rizwan was penciled in to play the first Test in early August.
“The tour to England is very much on track and the side will depart as per schedule on 28 June. Fortunately, all the first-choice red-ball squad, barring Mohammad Rizwan, are negative, which means they can start training and practicing immediately after they have been tested and given the all clear when they arrive in England,” he said.
Khan disclosed that they are likely to travel to England with 23 players initially including the four reserve players [Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan, and Mohammad Nawaz] based on their COVID-19 tests.
“We will travel to England with 23 players including our four reserved players who are yet to be tested. In the meantime, Misbah-ul-Haq is reviewing the training schedule in England and is firming up plans for reserve players to be tested as a backup,” he concluded.
It must be noted here that the Pakistan team will travel to the UK via chartered plan on June 28. They will play three Tests and as many T20Is against the English side.