London, July 6 (IANS) Two days before their opening day-night One-day International against Pakistan on Thursday, England cricket was thrown into a tizzy after seven members — three players and four management team members – tested positive for Covid-19.
“Following PCR tests administered yesterday [Monday] in Bristol, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) can confirm that seven members — three players and four management team members– of the England Men’s ODI party have tested positive for Covid-19. The remaining members of the party have been deemed close contacts and will also isolate,” the ECB said in a statement on Tuesday.
The development means that the ECB will have to select a new squad for the Pakistan series, which will go ahead as scheduled.
“The ECB have confirmed the Royal London ODIs and the Vitality IT20s against Pakistan will go ahead. Ben Stokes will return to England duties and captain the squad — which will be named in the next few hours,” the ECB said.
“In collaboration with Public Health England, Public Health Wales, and Bristol Local Health Authority, those impacted will now observe a period of self-isolation from July 4 following the UK Government’s protocol on quarantine.”
The ECB said that incoming squad and support team members would follow PCR tests and bridging protocols to ensure safe entry to camp.
“We have been mindful that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak. We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall wellbeing of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said.
“Overnight we have worked swiftly to identify a new squad, and we are grateful to Ben Stokes who will return to England duties to captain. We also recognise the impact this news will have on our first-class counties and their men’s playing squads and thank them, along with our partners Sky and Royal London, for their ongoing support in dealing with this pandemic,” he said.