England’s preparations for the first Test in Pakistan have been dealt a serious blow with nearly half the squad affected by an illness, reports Sky Sports.
Captain Ben Stokes is among those affected. It is believed to be a bug or virus rather than Covid, with England making their final training session ahead of the Test match on Wednesday morning optional.
Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope and Joe Root reported for the practice session at the stadium in Rawalpindi, while the rest, including about 14 members of the team along with the coaches remained at their Islamabad base.
Former England captain Joe Root is said to have experienced symptoms on Tuesday, but has since recovered.
England will play its first Test match in Pakistan on Thursday in 17 years.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Pakisdtan Cricket Board (PCB) are considering the postponement of the scheduled match as a worst-case scenario if the England players are not fit to perform well, as would have been the case if the Test was scheduled to begin on Wednesday.
In a tweet, the PCB said: “The PCB and ECB are in discussions regarding the commencement of the first Test as some England players are down with viral infection. The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course.”
Quoting the aforementioned tweet by the PCB, England has said that the board is in discussions with the PCB regarding the start of the test pertaining to the viral infection in their camp.
A final decision on the commencement of the match could be expected as late as Thursday morning.
However, Stokes had named his nominal starting XI for the match but his plans could now be forced to change.