SEVEN more Pakistan players due to tour England in August have tested positive for coronavirus, the country’s cricket board said Tuesday (23), taking the total to 10 since the first results were announced this week.
Pakistan are due to depart for England on Sunday ahead of a series that will see them play three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals against England, starting in August.
Despite the new cases, the Pakistan Cricket Board’s chief executive Wasim Khan insisted the tour would still go ahead.
“The tour is very much on the track and the squad will depart as per schedule on June 28th,” said Khan.
“Fortunately, all first-choice Test players, barring wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan, are negative which means they can start training immediately after they are tested and given all clear when they arrive in UK,” he added.
Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Kashif Bhatti are the latest to be diagnosed with the virus.
It comes after three cricketers Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and Haider Ali tested positive on Monday.
The team’s massage therapist has also tested positive.
England director of cricket Ashley Giles said the tour was expected to go ahead.
“At the moment I don’t think the series is in doubt. We’re far enough away from the start of the test series to not worry about that too much at the moment,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“There are some more test results coming out later from the rest of the group, so we’ll see what that says. But we’re still hopeful that the Pakistan team will be arriving in the country fairly soon.”
Pakistan is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases, with more than 180,000 so far, including 3,590 deaths, but Prime Minister Imran Khan — a former cricket captain — has ruled out a nationwide lockdown.
“The situation in Pakistan is not great at the moment and our thoughts go out to the whole country,” Giles added.
“Clearly it’s important that we get those guys in this country and we get on with that series.”
England are returning from the coronavirus shutdown with three tests against West Indies next month with the first scheduled to begin in Southampton on July 8 without spectators.