Two days before the start of the first ODI against visiting Pakistan, three England players and four support staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. They will now undergo a period of isolation. (More Cricket News)
"We have been mindful that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak," ECB CEO Tom Harrison said confirming the isolation Tuesday.
The Royal London ODIs and the Vitality IT20s against Pakistan will go ahead. Ben Stokes will return to England duties and captain the squad – which will be named in the next few hours. pic.twitter.com/LH3mBm8wOz— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 6, 2021
The development came barely 24 hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that all legal COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, including the mandatory wearing of face masks and a limit on the crowd at indoor, outdoor and sports events, will come to an end on July 19.
England are scheduled to play three ODIs and three T20Is against Pakistan, starting with the first ODI on July 8 at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. The Eoin Morgan-led side just completed series wins against touring Sri Lanka -- 3-0 in T20Is and 2-0 in ODIs. The final 50-over game at County Ground, Bristol was however called off due to rain.
"We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall wellbeing of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions," Harrison added.
The Pakistan series is still expected to go ahead. And Ben Stokes, who is returning from a lengthy injury lay-off, will now lead the revised squad that will be announced shortly.
The Pakistan series will be followed by a five-match Test series against India, who recently took on New Zealand in the final match of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan cricketers will head straight into a bio-bubble ahead of their limited-overs series against India after returning from England.
"The Sri Lankan team will reach Colombo today itself and enter another bubble after one round of RT PCR test. Even after completion of tour on Sunday, the team had an RT PCR test in UK before boarding the flight," a Sri Lanka Cricket official said.
India and Sri Lanka are due to square off in an ODI and T20 series starting July 13.