England and Pakistan on Wednesday held discussions about the start of the first Test between the two teams, after 14 members of the touring side including captain Ben Stokes, contracted a viral infection.
The decision to start the Test match, England’s first in Pakistan for 17 years, is not expected until Thursday morning as players continue to be monitored, injured players advised to rest and as a result have done so. Not participating in the final training session at Rawalpindi stadium on the eve of the match.
England and Wales cricket The Board (ECB) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) later stated that they were in discussions regarding the ‘start-up’ of the Test.
“The PCB and the ECB are in discussions about starting the first #PAKvENG test as some England players have a viral infection. The office continues to monitor the situation and is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course,” the office said in a tweet. .
Joe Root attended the pre-match press conference in place of captain Stokes, and shed light on the situation in the camp.
“There should be Marcus Trescothick, Rob Key and Brendon McCollum – there will be three new centers for tomorrow,” Root joked when asked for an update on the England squad.
“As far as I know, there are a few guys out there who don’t feel 100 percent. I didn’t feel good yesterday and I woke up better today. So hopefully it’s just a 24-hour virus. Don’t think about food poisoning or covid or anything like that.”
It’s just one of those things that we unfortunately chose as a group. We try to do everything absolutely right to make sure we prepare well for this game and sometimes life throws these kinds of things at you as a team and we just have to see how we pull off tomorrow and be right and ready for it to go.”
England had already elected to play their XI for the game, with Liam Livingstone in line for his Test debut and Ben Duckett returning to the side after six years.
Root said England would still be looking to select their XI, but admitted changes could be made if anyone failed to recover in time.
“It’s hard to say. I didn’t see anyone this morning. I literally got straight onto the bus. The guys are going to do everything they can. Really work hard in that regard. Time will tell,” said Root when asked if everyone would be fit for tomorrow.
“There’s not much you can do, except do everything you can to fuel up and hydrate. Do all the things away from the game that will serve you well tonight in preparation for tomorrow. That’s all we can do for now. It’s where we are as a team.
Sometimes pick up bugs and virus. When you’re tied together in one hotel, it can spread. We’ve done everything we can to try to mitigate that. We shall see how things go today and tomorrow.”
The series is important to Pakistan and they are looking for a place in the International Criminal Court Globalism Test tournament 2021/23 final. They are currently fifth in the table with a point percentage of 51.85 and will need to win as many of their five remaining Tests to stay in the competition.
England’s chances of reaching the final are still mathematically possible, but they are in fact knocked out of the race after a poor start to their campaign. They finished seventh in the standings with 38.6 points.