Rawalpindi [Pakistan], November 30 (ANI): England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is in talks with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) about the start of the first Test in Rawalpindi due to a viral infection outbreak in their camp.
On the eve of their first Test in Pakistan, England is in disarray after 13 to 14 staff members, including half of the 16-man playing squad, fell ill on Wednesday.
"We are in discussions with the PCB regarding the start of the first Test due to a viral infection within our camp. #PAKvENG," tweeted England Cricket Twitter handle.
PCB also confirmed that both the boards are in discussion regarding the start of the Test match and the board is currently monitoring the situation.
"The PCB and ECB are in discussions regarding the commencement of the 1st #PAKvENG Test as some England players are down with the viral infection. The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course," tweeted PCB.
As per the ESPNcricinfo, the problem is believed to be a virus or bug rather than food poisoning, and England is taking extra precautions with their diet thanks to a chef named Omar Meziane who has accompanied the team on this tour. To reduce the risk of the virus spreading, some players were instructed to remain in their rooms on Tuesday after reporting feeling unwell.
James Anderson and captain of England Ben Stokes are believed to be two of those who are impacted. Jack Leach, who has Crohn's disease and takes immunosuppressant medication to lower his immune response, exhibits symptoms but is reportedly in good health. Despite experiencing symptoms on Tuesday, Joe Root was able to train on Wednesday.
As reported by Espncricinfo an ECB spokesperson confirmed that the illnesses were not COVID-19 related. There is a chance the virus will go away in a day, but since the first of the three matches in the series starts on Thursday in Rawalpindi, England's chances of getting off to a good start have been significantly diminished.
Only Root, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Harry Brook, and Keaton Jennings participated in the Wednesday training session at the venue, which was optional prior to the bug's spread. The other players listed in the starting XI were absent. With Liam Livingstone making his debut and Ben Duckett making a comeback, Stokes' team from Tuesday may now look very different.
The outbreak has taken place at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad, where both teams England and Pakistan have been staying. This is not the first time that England has been ill at the beginning of a tour. A similar bug affected the team prior to and during their Boxing Day Test in Pretoria on the 2019-20 South African tour.
Rawalpindi will host the first Test (1-5 December) before the action moves to Karachi (9-13 December) and Multan (17-21 December) for the subsequent games.
England XI v Pakistan: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (w), Liam Livingstone, Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson and Jimmy Anderson. (ANI)