Pakistan set to arrive for England Test tour despite virus fears
Pakistan will arrive for their tour of England at the weekend even though several potential squad members have tested positive for the coronavirus, cricket chiefs announced on Friday.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said earlier this week that 10 players had returned positive tests, plus a support staff member.
But the England and Wales Cricket Board said players would arrive for their summer tour on Sunday, with a virus testing programme in place.
It is understood those who have recorded positive tests — and anyone else who returns a subsequent positive finding — will not be allowed to travel, with the PCB due to confirm its advance party on Saturday.
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said Wednesday that a second test he commissioned himself proved he did not have coronavirus, a day after the PCB said he was among the players who had officially tested positive.
Hafeez, described by officials as asymptomatic, like the rest of those who tested positive, said he had immediately arranged a private second opinion.
“I personally went to test it again, along with my family, and here I, along with my all family members are reported negative,” he tweeted.
Pakistan’s fragile health system is struggling to cope with the pandemic.
There have been more than 190,000 confirmed cases in the country so far, with the death toll around 4,000.
Britain has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the virus, with more than 43,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Besides Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Kashif Bhatti were diagnosed Tuesday as having the virus pathogens.
Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali, and a team massage therapist tested positive on Monday.
But of the positive Tests, only wicketkeeper Rizwan would be classed a first-choice Test player.
Pakistan’s tour of England is set to include three Tests and three Twenty20 internationals.
It is expected the first Test will take place in Manchester in August but the ECB said the behind-closed-doors schedule would be announced in “due course”.
Pakistan will have a 14-day isolation period on arrival before continuing their preparations ahead of the first Test with two internal four-day warm-up matches.
England face the West Indies in a three-Test series starting at Southampton on July 8 — a campaign that will mark the return of international cricket from lockdown.