Pakistan Cricket Board came under intense pressure on whether to send its team for the England series or not after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19 but eventually went ahead with the tour to ensure resumption of the game amid the pandemic, a top official said.
Last month, 10 players had been left out of the England tour squad after they failed to clear the coronavirus test.
Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Haider Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain and Kashif Bhatti were among those who tested positive in the first round.
A few players subsequently cleared a second test and joined the squad in England. Pakistan play a three-match Test series against England starting on August 5, followed by three T20 International matches.
“The Board was under pressure when so many players’ tests came positive. Thus sending the cricket team to England during the coronavirus pandemic was quite a tough decision," PCB CEO Wasim Khan was quoted as saying by a Pakistani channel.
“We kept to our plan to go ahead with the tour because we had in the first place decided to send the team to play our important part in the restoration of world cricket and to keep it on track, it is imperative to continue with matches."
Khan also emphasised that “cricket and COVID-19 will have to co-exist. He insisted that there was no other reason for going ahead with the tour to England other than to ensure that international cricket resumed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the PCB also took into account that the West Indies proceeded with their tour of England despite the pandemic.
“Whenever we are asked regarding our decision to proceed with the tour to England, the same question should also be posed to the West Indies cricket team, which has also continued with scheduled matches," he said.
“The West Indies (cricket team) decided to go to England when the situation was quite worse over there (due to the pandemic)."
Khan said international teams were having a different perception about playing in Pakistan.
“They are more willing to come now. Tell me why did not these teams like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh come for Tests and white ball cricket before we took over. We also brought the MCC side and the Bangladesh women’s team. All this gives us confidence that more teams will be coming to Pakistan soon."