The COVID-19 wreaked havoc in the England camp as seven members of their contingent, including three players and four management staff tested positive for COVID-19, forcing other members of the squad into immediate isolation. With England set to take on Pakistan on July 8, the England Cricket Board (ECB) was forced to announce a fresh squad – led by all-rounder Ben Stokes – with nine uncapped players in it, to face the visitors.
Former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja has slammed the England team for being lenient on following COVID-19 protocols. The former opener reckons that England are themselves to blame for this mishap.
“England players have tested positive, which is not a good thing. But it can bring negativity into the dressing room and you need to reboot your combination. They have brought Ben Stokes back, so you can understand their desperation,” Ramiz Raja said on his YouTube channel.
While ECB director of cricket Ashley Giles ruled out any possibility of a bio-bubble breach, Raja feels that England players were not ready to follow COVID-19 protocols which resulted in this massive outbreak.
“Their attitude towards Covid-19 was very bizarre. They felt like they were in jail and were not ready to follow protocols like wearing masks and social distancing, and this desperation has resulted in their team grabbing negative headlines,” Ramiz Raja, who scored 8,674 runs from 57 Tests and 198 ODIs, added.
The tragedy meant that Chris Silverwood, who was on a break for the first time in his term, has to rush back to take over the responsibilities of the new team. Raja added with key players missing, the new and inexperienced England will struggle against the Pakistan unit.
“Pakistan team has gotten advantage and they should benefit from the negativity in England’s dressing room. Pakistan have got some breathing space because of this tragedy, but it remains to be seen how they will play,” Ramiz Raja stated.
Despite the spike in the new Delta variant of COVID-19 in the UK, the Pakistan series will go ahead as planned with no change in venues. Notably, the second ODI between these two sides at Lords will be played in front of a full capacity crowd.
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