It is always a matter of pride for the people of Pakistan when an international game is played in the country. And now, they will witness history being written when Babar Azam’s side take on England in the first Test of the three-match series in Rawalpindi on Thursday. The Three Lions would play a Test series in Pakistan after 17 years but before the opening game the visiting camp was dealt a huge blow. Nearly a dozen English players are suffering from an unknown illness and unable to make it to an optional training session on Wednesday.
The English media claimed that captain Ben Stokes was one of the players with the foul. The allegations were certainly witnessed by former captain Joe Root who attended the pre-match press on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters in Rawalpindi, Root admitted that many players are not feeling well and the team’s management is working on moving forward.
“(Marcus) Trekothick, (Rob) Key and (Brendon) McCollum are getting ready. Seriously people are sick, but we hope they’ll be okay in the morning. I felt unwell yesterday but I woke up better today,” Joe Root said at the press.)
With Stokes among the fallen players, Root was asked if he would lead the team in his successor’s absence. The former captain immediately denied this, saying that it could be Ollie Pop to step into the captain’s shoes.
“I don’t think so. Ole Popp did the job in the warm-up and he will do a great job,” added Root.
Only five players from England – Harry Brook, Zack Crawley, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope and Joe Root – turned up for training at Bindi. cricket playground on Wednesday. The remaining members of the squad stayed at the team hotel.
Team spokesman Danny Robin did not clarify the nature of the illnesses, nor did he mention the exact number of injured England players. But he said in a statement that the players were “advised to stay at the hotel to rest”.
In Stokes’ absence, the Pakistan Cricket Board had to postpone the unveiling of the series by a day and the ceremony will now take place on the Thursday before the first Test is bowled.
England playing XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duquette, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (C), Ben Fox (WK), Liam Livingston, Olly Robinson, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.