Confident‌ ‌players‌ ‌haven't‌ ‌breached‌ ‌any‌ ‌protocols:‌ ‌Ashley‌ ‌Giles‌ ‌after‌ ‌COVID‌ ‌strikes‌ ‌England‌ ‌squad‌

Tags: England, Ashley Fraser Giles, COVID‌

Published on: Jul 06, 2021

England team director Ashley Giles has assured that none of the players who were chosen for the limited-overs series against Pakistan broke any COVID-19 related protocols. Giles’ statement came after three England cricketers and four members of the backroom staff tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the entire England contingent originally selected for the Pakistan series has been sent into isolation. A completely fresh squad, to be led by all-rounder Ben Stokes, was announced on Tuesday itself.

Defending the England players, ESPNcricinfo quoted Giles as saying about COVID situation, "I'm very confident the players haven't breached any of those protocols. We can't say where it (the virus) originated, but we can identify how some of this has developed through close contact. We haven't gambled. I don't believe we've gambled at all. We are fully aware of the risks and we are aware of the knife-edge that we are working on all the time."

"We are trying to look after our people and keeping them safe while protecting the revenues of the whole game. It is a difficult balance to strike. Let's stop talking about relaxed protocols. If we haven't got sole use of hotels, if we have grounds with crowds and you have staff coming in and out of the environment then, however much testing you do, there is going to be a risk. We are seeing an almost-impossible situation as society opens and the virus is still spreading," he added.

"We always hoped we would open up as society opened up. That was always the plan until the variant arrived. But actually what we had planned - in terms of much more access to families, eating outside, the normal freedoms other people are taking for granted right now - just didn't happen," said Giles.

Apart from Stokes, coach Chris Silverwood, who was earlier granted leave for the series has also been called back, citing the emergency circumstances. While the new squad features a number of new faces, Alex Hales has, surprisingly, not been named. Hales hasn’t played for England since being dropped ahead of the 2019 World Cup, after being banned for testing positive for recreational drug use.

England’s series against Pakistan will comprise of three ODIs and as many T20Is. The series will begin with the first ODI on Thursday, July 8.

England’s new ODI squad: Ben Stokes (c), Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Lewis Gregory, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, David Payne, Phil Salt, John Simpson, James Vince

--By A Cricket Correspondent

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