England’s preparations for their first Test of the three-match series in Pakistan have been dealt a major blow with several members of their squad affected by an illness. According to local media reports, 13 to 14 members of the touring party are down with an unidentified virus.

England captain Ben Stokes is among those affected, and it is reported that the virus is not COVID. Players and staff members have been advised to stay indoors, and they even skipped the final practice session on Wednesday.

“Several England players, members from the team management, including skipper Ben Stokes, have reported unwell and have been advised to stay at the hotel to take rest. They will not participate in any practice session today, confirmation from the England spokesperson,” tweeted Farid Khan, a Geo News journalist.

Notably, England have brought their own chef on this tour in order to avoid picking up bugs as some players got unwell during the T20I series in Pakistan in September. Good news for fans is that the medical staff are hopeful that it is only a 24-hour bug.

Stokes had named England’s playing XI on Tuesday, handing a debut to all-rounder Liam Livingstone who was among those who missed an optional training session today. Veteran pacer James Anderson is the only member of the squad to have experienced playing red-ball cricket in Pakistan when he toured the country back in 2005.

Not to mention, the playing XI announcement by Stokes is not official until the team sheets are handed to the match referee at the toss, so changes could take place if required.

England’s playing XI for the first Test: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Liam Livingstone, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, Jimmy Anderson.


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