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Pakistan players undergo round one of Covid-19 testing ahead of England tour

PCB’s Director Medicine and Sports Science admitted that the upcoming tour of England is a 'big risk'

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan players underwent round-one of the Covid-19 testing phase ahead of their upcoming tour to England.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has arranged for the players to be tested in their respective cities.

Newly appointed batting coach, for the tour of England, Younis Khan underwent testing as well.

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PCB’s Director Medicine and Sports Sciences Doctor Sohail Saleem, while talking to media personnel on Monday, revealed that the tests are being conducted in four cities.

“The tests are being conducted in four cities while the results will be available in the next 24 hours. General health tests are also being conducted along with the annual build tests. If a player is positive, he will be stopped from the tour. Players who test positive will be kept in isolation, however, they can be sent for the tour upon recovery. The SOPs for the tour have been created by both boards. No player will be allowed to meet with relatives or friends during the tour,” Saleem said.

Saleem also admitted that the upcoming tour of England during the coronavirus pandemic is a “big risk” but one that is necessary to help the country get through the crisis.

“During the pandemic it's [the tour] a big risk,” he said. “We haven’t experienced [playing during a pandemic], but for both teams it will be a first. The pandemic means risk, but consider them [players] as ... providing people entertainment.”

He was also encouraged by football resuming in Europe behind closed doors.

“There is no crowd in football and there will be no spectators at cricket stadiums too,” he said. “The anxiety level of people sitting at home is rising, but cricket can be seen as lowering these.”

The concerned players and staff, who are expected to depart for the tour, are currently providing samples in their respective city centers. The second phase of the testing will begin on June 25.

In case a test comes back positive, the concerned player or staff member will have to quarantine at home while a reserve player would be called in to fill the slot. The selectors have also named four reserves in Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz as a cover in case any of the players fail pre-tour Covid-19 testing.

When the Pakistan team arrives in England, the entire squad will be tested every five days.

The PCB has announced a 29-member squad for the upcoming tour of England who will depart from Lahore on June 28 on a chartered flight to Manchester. Pakistan’s veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik will depart on July 24 after receiving a special dispensation from the PCB. Apart from cricketers, 14 players' support personnel will also be travelling with the squad.

Meanwhile, 30 cricketers in the England squad along with their 15 member support staff are set to undergo tests for the Covid-19 on Tuesday.

Pakistan is scheduled to take on the home side in three Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), which will be played in August-September. The first Test is expected to be played on August 5 according to the current schedule.