ISLAMABAD: The top governing bodies of cricket in England and Pakistan will take a decision about the commencement of the first Test match between the two sides on Thursday after England players, including skipper Ben Stokes, complained of a stomach bug ahead of the contest in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
England arrived in Islamabad on Sunday for their first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years after playing a seven-match Twenty20 series in the country two months ago. The two sides are scheduled to play three Test matches in December, though it is not clear if the series will begin as per schedule due to the health issues faced by the visiting team.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced in a Twitter post on Wednesday that its officials were in conversation with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over the commencement of the first Test match.
According to a statement subsequently released, the two boards “unanimously agreed to delay the decision” until Thursday morning on the basis of the health condition of the players.
“The two boards also agreed, subject to the England players not recovering well enough to take the field on Thursday morning, then the Test will commence on Friday and will be a five-day match,” the PCB statement added. “In this scenario, the schedule of the second Test in Multan and the third Test in Karachi will remain unaffected and will be played as per original schedule, i.e. 9-13 and 17-21 December, respectively.”
The captains of the two national teams were also supposed to unveil the Test series trophy on Wednesday, but the ceremony was postponed since the England skipper was not in a good shape.
“Several players and staff members, including England captain Ben Stokes, are feeling unwell and have been advised to stay at the hotel to rest up,” said an ECB statement.
According to media reports, about eight members of the England squad have been hit by the viral food poisoning, though the team brought its own chef after some players complained about food and fell ill during the T20 series.