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June 30, 2020

‘Bio-secure bubble in Worcester no different than it was in Lahore’

Sports

June 30, 2020

KARACHI: Pakistan’s cricketers were in waiting mode on Monday after checking in into their team hotel at Worcestershire’s New Road stadium on Sunday night.

A total of 20 players and 12 support staff reached Manchester from Lahore on a chartered flight on Sunday night and then drove to New Road Stadium in Worcester where they will spend 15 days in quarantine, a requirement of the UK government for all visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The team hotel is within the confines of the New Road Stadium. It was there that a team of experts took samples for Covid-19 tests from all 32 members of the Pakistani squad on Monday.

A team official told ‘The News’ from Worcester on Monday that all players were in good spirits and were now looking forward to getting the green signal to begin training ahead of the three-Test series against England.

“We had a smooth flight followed by a good night’s rest,” said Raza Kitchlew, the team’s media manager. “All the boys as well as officials are in good spirits. Of course the waiting part is a bit different from what everybody is used to but it hasn’t dampened the mood,” he said.

According to Raza, the team management will finalise its training programme as soon as it receives test results from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). The results are expected by Tuesday morning.

In the meantime, the players are officials are keeping themselves busy by indulging in several recreational activities including snooker, table tennis and darts. Members of the Pakistani squad are the only guests at the hotel at New Road Ground which means that all facilities there are exclusively available to them.

“The players and officials move in small groups of up to five or six persons. All necessary SOPs like wearing masks and social distancing are being followed,” Raza said. When asked whether there was any difference between the bio-secure bubble at the team hotel in Lahore and the one they are staying at New Road, he said: “There is no difference between the two. It’s like we have moved to a completely similar environment.”

Meanwhile, Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s head coach, is preparing a training programme for the players who will be allowed begin their preparations once they clear the Covid-19 tests. They already cleared two rounds of tests before boarding the flight to Manchester but ECB’s strict protocol means that they would keep undergoing regular tests during their stay in England. After the Test series, Pakistan will play three Twenty20 Internationals before returning home early September.