Covid-hit England tour

The lethal microbe penetrated into the English cricket team camp, forcing the ECB to announce a whole new squad

July 08, 2021

Sporting activities around the world are getting back to normal slowly and gradually, and many an international competition involving multiple teams, like the UEFA Euro 2020, has remained largely unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s just unfortunate though that the novel virus has had its impact on the bilateral series of three ODIs and three T20Is between Pakistan and England starting today. The lethal microbe has penetrated into the English cricket team camp, forcing the ECB to announce a whole new squad — in an unprecedented move — that features nine uncapped players. Those down with the virus include three players and four officials, but the remaining members of the team have been deemed close contacts. Thus, they are observing a period of self-isolation from July 4 in line with the UK government’s protocol on quarantine.

English cricket authorities must be thankful to the Pakistan Cricket Board and the team for going ahead with the tour — especially given that England had avoided travelling to Pakistan even for a three-match T20I series reportedly due to Covid-19. Besides, the Englishmen have not toured Pakistan since 2005 citing security reasons. While Pakistan’s sportsman spirit deserves to be applauded, the PCB must be mindful about ensuring safety of the players — more so because the UK seems to have more cases of the more pervading Delta variant of the coronavirus than most of the rest of the world. The players too should exercise all the care and caution and observe the SOPs to keep safe from Covid-19.

Coming back to the field, Pakistan will have both advantages and disadvantages facing a new England team. While the Babar Azam men will have the opportunity to play on the inexperience of their opponents, all the planning done so far by the team management has come to naught. Stuart Broad rights “feels for the analysts of the Pakistan team”.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2021.

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