Multiple England cricketers including captain Stokes infected with unidentified virus ahead of 1st Test vs Pakistan

Nov 30, 2022 01:05 PM IST

Only five players - Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings -attended the optional training on the eve of the series opener under the watchful eyes of head coach Brendon McCullum as the others were advised rest. All of the squad, except for the injured Mark Wood, took part in training the previous day.

Multiple England cricketers including captain Ben Stokes are down with an unidentified virus ahead of their historic first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi starting Thursday. As many as 14 members of the England touring party have been infected with the virus, reported British media on Wednesday. Only five players - Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings -attended the optional training on the eve of the series opener under the watchful eyes of head coach Brendon McCullum as the others were advised rest. All of the squad, except for the injured Mark Wood, took part in training the previous day.

England's captain Ben Stokes (C) warms up along with teammates during a training session ahead of their first cricket Test match against Pakistan, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on November 28, 2022. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)(AFP)
England's captain Ben Stokes (C) warms up along with teammates during a training session ahead of their first cricket Test match against Pakistan, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on November 28, 2022. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)(AFP)

The report further added that the symptoms of the virus are not related to Covid-19. Team spokesman Danny Reuben didn't elaborate on the nature of the illnesses or give the exact number of affected England players. But he said in a statement that the unwell players "have been advised to stay at the hotel to rest up."In the absence of Stokes, the Pakistan Cricket Board had to postpone the trophy unveiling of the series by a day and the ceremony will now be held on Thursday ahead of the toss for the first Test.

Coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have championed England's aggressive, high-risk high-reward style and it is unlikely they will take a more conservative approach in the three-test tour, which starts on Thursday.

Veteran pace bowler James Anderson said England's only thought was winning.

"We've got a captain and coach that don't want draws. We're not playing for draws," Anderson told BBC Sport.

Six wins in their last seven matches at home vindicate England's new approach but fans are keen to see if it can work just as well abroad.

The tourists have made a bold decision by selecting batting all-rounder Liam Livingstone, a highly sought-after Twenty20 player, to make his Test debut despite not having played red-ball cricket this year.

Anderson was part of the England team which toured Pakistan in 2005, though he played only the one-day leg of that series.

Security concerns kept England away from Pakistan for the next 17 years until they arrived in September to play seven T20s on the first leg of their tour.

Anderson felt his experience from that 2005 tour would count for little and said England would have to adapt quickly to conditions in Rawalpindi, Multan and Karachi.

"Seventeen years is a long time," the 40-year-old said.

"It's a completely different team we're playing against, completely different conditions.

"It's about adapting when we get out there. We talk a little bit about the opposition but mainly concentrate on what we do well - that's what we did in the summer."

Ben Duckett will open the batting with Zak Crawley, while Joe Root is expected to share Jack Leach's spin burden along with Livingstone.

(With agency inputs)

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