The Ben Stokes-led England have arrived in Pakistan after 17 years for a Test series which gets underway on Thursday. Prior to the series opener in Rawalpindi, the English campaign has taken a massive hit as several players reportedly fell ill. However, an official word on the matter is awaited for the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
According to a Daily Mail report, at least a dozen English players, including Ben Stokes, have been laid low by the bug in less than 24 hours before the first ball is bowled. It has been learned that it is unknown whether England will be forced to make changes to the team they had announced on Tuesday. At the same time, an unnamed team spokesman has also reportedly told Daily Mail that the symptoms are not Covid-related.
The report added that it’s quite possible all the players could recover in time before the cricket gets going. England have employed their own chef for the tour, though the bug is not thought to be connected to food, the report said.
Earlier, Stokes confirmed his team for the match on Tuesday with Liam Livingstone set for debut, but the report of several members of the side being affected could result in changes at the last minute.
The England Test captain also announced that he would be donating his entire match fees from the upcoming Test series against Pakistan to the Flood Relief Appeal for the country.
“It is great to be in Pakistan for the first time for this historic series. To be back here after 17 years as a Test side is very exciting. There is a sense of responsibility amongst the playing and support group and to be there is special,” Stokes said.
“The floods that devastated Pakistan earlier this year were very sad to see and have had a significant impact on the country and the people. The game has given me a lot in my life and I feel it’s only right to give something back that goes far beyond cricket.”
“I will be donating my match fees from this Test series to the Pakistan flood appeal. Hopefully, this donation can go towards the rebuilding of areas of Pakistan most affected by the flooding,” wrote Stokes in his statement on Twitter.
Only five England players — Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook and Keaton Jennings — who are not part of the playing XI for the opening Test attended the optional nets session at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
(With Agency Inputs)
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