Pakistan have been confirmed as England’s second set of summer tourists despite the raft of positive Covid-19 test results among their squad during the past week
In a statement on Friday afternoon the England and Wales Cricket Board said the Pakistan squad will travel to the UK on Sunday and begin a two-week period of quarantine and training at Worcestershire’s New Road before switching base to Derbyshire’s County Ground on 13 July for two warm-up matches.
A final squad for departure will be named on Saturday, with 10 players among the initial 29 testing positive for coronavirus at the start of the week – despite all being asymptomatic – and Shoaib Malik given additional time at home with his family.
Mohammad Hafeez, among the positive results, drew the ire of his board after seeking out a second private test and posting the outcome – negative – on social media. Further testing has taken place since but the ECB has said no one shown to be positive will travel in the advance party.
Pakistan are due to play three Tests from 5 August, before three Twenty20s starting at the end of that month, but the tour will ultimately hinge on the success of the stringent biosecure measures in place for the England versus West Indies series that begins in Southampton on 8 July.
Jimmy Adams, the West Indies director of cricket, told the Two Hacks, One Pro podcast: “I think a lot of us are crossing our fingers that the environment can be kept Covid-free. What we don’t want at all is an outbreak within the bubble. We’re hearing news from Pakistan about their players, which is throwing spanners in the works there.
“Credit to the ECB, they haven’t left any stone unturned in terms of a safety point of view. What I was impressed with was the speed they put the plan together. They have done as much as anybody could expect in terms of player safety.
“Can we get through to the end of the series with all the guys clear? It will relax quite a few players if we do, because there will be other tours for guys to think about and it will be a good advert for what can be done.
“It’s not just cricket but other sports around the world are holding their breath. Pull this off and we have a blueprint that might kickstart the game until this thing settles down properly.”