Covid outbreak in England ODI squad will cause chaos but they have depth to cope, says Nasser Hussain
Nasser Hussain has praised the ECB for their handling of Covid bubbles over the past year but believes the outbreak among the England one-day squad will cause “absolute chaos”.
Three players and four members of the backroom staff have tested positive for Covid-19 with the remainder of the squad deemed close contacts and required to self-isolate.
With the entire 16-man squad ruled out of the ODI series against Pakistan, Ben Stokes returns from injury to lead a revised 18-strong England group that includes nine uncapped players.
- Nine uncapped players in revised England squad after Covid outbreak
- Entire England squad to miss Pakistan ODI series after Covid outbreak
“It shows how well England and the ECB have done over the last 15 months during Covid times to keep it out of the bubble, whether it was the completely tight bubble, something that has been eased slightly and I think they had to ease that bubble slightly,” Hussain told Sky Sports.
“Cricketers have been going around the world in bubbles and just for the sake of their mental health, when they turn up to the ground and see normal society out there and being relaxed slightly then that’s what they have to do with their players.
England vs Pakistan
July 8, 2021, 12:30pm
“It’s now got in the camp and now they will have to react.
“It will cause chaos because, obviously they have to pick a completely different squad, that’s 16 players and then backroom staff and coaches ruled out.
“They will have to pull the bulk of those players out of county cricket, there is a round of County Championship games going on now and all those counties will have to replace those players and get them tested.
“The players who are pulled out will have to get to Cardiff and get tested to enter the bubble so it will be absolute chaos at ECB towers right now. But it does go to show how well the ECB and elite sport have done so far.”
Despite having lost the whole of their initial squad, Hussain thinks England have the strength in depth to cope in the three-match series against Pakistan,
“It will be disruptive but English cricket can handle it a little bit better because of the depth, especially to their white-ball squad,” the former England captain added.
“It has always been said, I think it was Sam Billings last year said the white-ball team was one of the hardest teams in the world to get into.
“So, because they have so much depth, I think they will handle it and the side that they put out on Thursday for the first ODI against Pakistan will be a pretty good side, to be honest.”
Meanwhile, Michael Atherton thinks the potential financial implications of further outbreaks this summer will be of particular concern to the ECB.
“I think the real worry is that last summer the international summer got away in its entirety and it saved the game financially,” he said.
“The real worry now with the Delta variant on the rise is that cricket could be severely impacted this summer.
“There is a sense of inevitability about it with society opening up… cricket is unable to play in the sort of strict bio-secure bubbles that were in place last year because of all kinds of reasons: financial, mental health, wellbeing of the players.
“There was an inevitability that this was going to happen, perhaps this is an extreme example with the whole squad having to isolate and a new squad needing to be picked.”
Watch the first ODI between England and Pakistan, in Cardiff, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30pm on Thursday.
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