Hales positive symptoms end PSL; no decision yet on putting fellow players in isolation

Published: 03:01 PM, 17 Mar, 2020
Hales positive symptoms end PSL; no decision yet on putting fellow players in isolation
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The Pakistan Cricket Board has postponed the Pakistan Super League 2020 with immediate effect and the two semi-finals and the final will be rescheduled for a later date.

This decision was taken after a player, who had left Pakistan a few days ago, showed symptoms of COVID-19 and he will undergo screening shortly.

According to cricket commentator Ramiz Raja the said players is England’s Alex Hales, who developed the system 24 hours after he left Pakistan and has been in self isolations since leaving Pakistan.

Raja, in a video widely shared on Twitter, said that Hales may have contracted the virus, hinting that that necessitated the need for the league's postponement earlier in the day.

"The news coming in right now is that maybe Alex Hales is showing symptoms and he is being tested because of which this problem has risen," Raja said. "We (the broadcasters) also have our tests in the next two hours."

The PCB, as part of its duty of care, has made arrangements for all the players and players support staff of the four semi-finalists, match officials, franchise owners and production crew to undergo precautionary tests and has strongly advised them to wait for the results prior to undertaking any travel.

However, there is no suggestion yet that Karachi Kings players and management would put in isolation as a precaution and not doing so may complicate the situation.

Already the reluctance of the PCB and concerned government authorities to take the right decision at right time has put many in jeopardy and any further slackness may lead to another disaster.

The PCB unwisely moved the matches to Karachi, when Karachi and Sindh were reporting most COVID-19 positive cases. This situation could have been averted to aggravate at such a level if the PCB scrapped the Karachi matches and hosted them either in Rawalpindi or Lahore behind closed doors.

PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said: “This is absolutely the right thing to do after an overseas player, who will be tested in his country shortly, has shown symptoms of COVID-19. The PCB has also facilitated the process of carrying out immediate tests of all those who were involved with the HBL Pakistan Super League.

“This is an unprecedented situation, which is evolving with each passing day. The PCB has closely monitored the situation and had taken precautionary measures including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days. The PCB believes it has made the right decisions in the lead up to the postponement of the tournament that included consulting the team owners, holding the matches behind closed doors, allowing the players the option to withdraw from the tournament, rescheduling of the matches and reducing the number of event days.

“Obviously before postponing the tournament, we took into confidence the team owners. The PCB will use its reach and influence to play its part in all government’s drives and initiatives to create awareness and dealing with this pandemic. The PCB hopes and prays that normalcy returns quickly to our society so that everyone can return to a healthy and routine lifestyle and we can bring back cricket to the fans.”

The fifth version of the T20 league had already been cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic. The two semi-finals were schedules for today. In the first semi-final Multan Sultans were set to contest against Peshawar Zalmi at 2pm at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. And, the Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars were set to face each other in the evening fixture. The final of the Super League was to be played on Wednesday, after the PCB previously rescheduled it, moving the tournament up to March 18 from March 22.

Commenting on the announcement, former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar supported the PCB decision. He even said that this decision should come a week ago as the matches being played behind closed doors had lost their charm.

"At this time of hour we need to do what the world is doing [to fight coronavirus]. The PCB should have called off the tournament a week ago because without the crowd, it was no fun," he said.

Giving his thoughts as to when possibly the postponed matches of PSL could be played, former cricketer Sikander Bakht suggested concluding them before the start of the next year. Despite remaining unfinished, the tournament achieved its target of showing the world that Pakistan is safe to stage major tournaments, he added.