Pakistan announces final team for England tour, will leave today

SportsPakistan announces final team for England tour, will leave today


Pakistan announces final team for England tour, will leave today

LAHORE: After days of uncertainty and conflicting reports, finally it was announced by Pakistan Cricket Board on Saturday that 20 cricketers and 11 backroom staff members will be leaving for Manchester on Sunday by a chartered flight.

The visitors will face England in three Tests and as many three Twenty20 Internationals after 31 members of the squad had cleared back-to-back Covid-19 tests.

Earlier, the PCB had planned to send 29 cricketers and 14 officials on the trip but 10 cricketers tested positive in the first round of Covid-19 tests conducted last week. Team’s masseur Malang Ali had also tested positive.

However, in the second round of tests, only four cricketers — Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Kashif Bhatti and Imran Khan — tested positive while Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnnain, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Rizwan all tested negative.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said it will only allow those cricketers and officials whose back-to-back tests are negative.

The 10 players testing positive in the first round will again appear for a third round of tests which is most likely to be conducted in first week of July and in case of negative reports, they will be eligible to leave for England.

The testing process, however, raised several questions as within two days six players have tested negative who were declared positive a week earlier. Both Hafeez and Wahab went to other labs for personal tests after their tests conducted by PCB had come positive. And both the players tested negative in the independently conducted tests. Now they have also been cleared by the PCB’s approved lab. The PCB, however, expressed displeasure over Hafeez going to public and sharing his negative report.

Among the five reserves, two have been included in the squad — uncapped wicket-keeper Rohail Nazir and paceman Musa Khan — to complete a 20-member squad. Among the reserves the only positive case was Imran Butt while the other three — Musa, Bilal Asif and Mohammad Nawaz — tested negative.

Pakistan, who are being led by Azhar Ali, will play the first Test from Aug 5, while Babar Azam will take over the reins for the T20 games.

The only man player missing from the Test series is wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan who also tested positive. However, the PCB is hopeful about his second test coming negative soon and he could join the team in mid-July.

“Upon arrival in Manchester, the squad will be transported to Worcestershire where they will undergo the England and Wales Cricket Board testing before completing their 14-day isolation period, during which they will be allowed to train and practice. The side will move to Derbyshire on 13 July,” a PCB press release said.

Bowling coach Waqar Younis and physio Cliffe Deacon will join the side directly from Australia and South Africa, respectively, while all-rounder Shoaib Malik is expected to travel around July 24 to England.

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “This was a challenging and unprecedented process that we have conducted and I am pleased that following a second round of testing, we are able to confirm that 20 players and 11 player support personnel will travel to Manchester on Sunday.

“Due to the increasing number of national cases and availability of testing labs in some players’ hometowns, I think the PCB medical panel have done a good job to get us through this process. Based on the national spread of players, there were always going to be some logistical challenges; we have taken a number of learning from the process that we will take forward with us.

“With the Test series being played in August, Misbah is satisfied with the group of players that are traveling on Sunday as the focus will be on red-ball preparations. Misbah understands that flexibility and adaptability will be needed with his training and practice schedule while operating under various guidelines.

“I want to reassure the players and the official left behind that the PCB will provide them best support and look after them during the quarantine period. It needs to be remembered that these players were asymptomatic, which means their chances of regaining complete fitness are higher and brighter than most. As soon as these players test negative twice through the PCB testing process they will be flown to England to join the squad.

“I am aware Hafeez and Wahab took personal tests outside of our process prior to the second PCB testing. While their results came up negative, as per the PCB testing programme, they are deemed to have one negative test following a positive test. Therefore, once they are retested and receive a second negative result under the PCB testing programme, they will be available to join the squad in England,” he said.

Meanwhile, slow left-armer Zafar Gohar, who played an ODI in 2015, will join the side from England and will only be involved in pre-match preparations.

Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Rohail Nazir, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Yasir Shah.

Officials: Mansoor Rana (team manager), Misbah-ul-Haq (head coach), Younis Khan (batting coach), Mushtaq Ahmed (spin bowling coach), Shahid Aslam (assistant coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Talha Butt (team analyst), Yasir Malik (strength/conditioning coach), Dr Sohail Saleem (team doctor), retired Lt Col Usman Riffat (security manager) and Raza Kitchlew (media/digital content manager).

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