BBL star Rauf among Pakistan's COVID-19 cases
A trio of Pakistan's players from their training camp ahead of a tour to England have returned positive tests for coronavirus, with more results to come
23 June 2020, 09:10 AM AEST
Plans for Pakistan's tour of England later this summer have been hit by the news that three of the country's first five players to receive COVID-19 testing have returned positive results.
The initial batch of tests went ahead in Rawalpindi on Sunday, with Melbourne Stars BBL pace sensation Haris Rauf, allrounder Shadab Khan, a former Brisbane Heat player and uncapped teenager Haider Ali, all found to be carrying the virus while showing no symptoms.
They will now self-isolate in consultation with medical officials and will not be part of the squad which departs Lahore for Manchester on June 28.
The trio are all considered white-ball players and, with three Twenty20s due to take place after a three Test series, should be clear to join up at a later date.
Tested Positive for COVID-19. Fortunately I am very much stable . Remember me in your precious prayers. Take every kind of precautions , follow SOPs, save yourself , your family and people around you.— Haris Rauf (@HarisRauf14) June 22, 2020
Tested positive for Covid19. Please remember me in your prayers. Wishing and praying for everyone’s safety. Stay safe.— Shadab Khan (@76Shadabkhan) June 22, 2020
Four standby players – Bilal Asif, Imran Butt, Musa Khan and Mohammad Nawaz – were named alongside an expanded 29-man squad for the trip and could be added as cover, but any further positive tests could escalate the issue.
A further 23 players and a several support staff were tested on Monday across sites in Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, with results due within 24 hours.
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi confirmed his own positive diagnosis earlier this month, while batsman Haris Sohail opted out of the tour to England due to the concerns of his family.
All-rounder Shoaib Malik has already been granted special dispensation to arrive after extra time at home, after travel restrictions kept him away from his wife and son for five months.
The positive results came a day after a Pakistan Cricket Board medical official said the upcoming tour of England was "a big risk" but necessary to help the country get through the crisis.
"During the pandemic it's (the tour) a big risk," said the PCB's director of medical and sports sciences Dr Sohail Saleem on Monday.
"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."
Saleem said he was encouraged by soccer resuming in Europe where the Bundesliga in Germany and the Premier League in England have staged games played in empty stadiums.
"There's 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."
All 29 England-bound players will be tested twice for COVID-19 before they board the flight to London. Once the team lands in the UK, Saleem said the players will go through another testing session before they start training in a bio-secured environment.
"After every five-seven days we will be carrying out testing of the players in the UK," Saleem said.
"Three days before the start of the first Test another round of testing of all the players will be done and if a player tests positive, he will be quarantined. We have set the protocol with the England and Wales Cricket Board."
Pakistan cricketers haven't played any competitive games since the Pakistan Super League was suspended due to the pandemic on March 17 and according to Saleem players have been mostly confined to their homes since then.