The ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) was on Thursday postponed with immediate effect after three more cricketers tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of cases in the T20 event to seven.
Out of the seven cases, six are players while one is a support staff member.
“Following a meeting with the team owners and considering the health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to postpone the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 with immediate effect,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement.
“The decision was made after seven cases were reported in the competition, which had started on 20 February.” The domestic T20 tournament has been rocked by a series of COVID-19 cases with the governing body confirming that three unnamed players from two different teams tested positive for the virus and will now self-isolate themselves for 10 days.
The three players were not part of the sides that featured in Wednesday’s double-header, and had been tested in the afternoon after showing symptoms.
Only 14 games could be completed in the 34-match tournament.
The PCB said it “will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants, and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines and isolation facilities to the six participating sides.” The PCB was apparently forced to take the decision after some of the foreign players and few local team officials expressed their concern over the situation and Australian all-rounder, Dan Christian decided to fly home immediately.
There were reports that some other foreign players also wanted to return home immediately, while a former Pakistan captain decided to leave the bio-secure bubble at the team hotel and go back to his home in Karachi.
On Wednesday, the Board had offered coronavirus vaccine doses to all participants of the league.
PCB CEO, Wasim Khan said that the Board has been in discussions with the federal and provincial government officials, highlighting the national cricket teams’ international engagements and commitments as well as the significance and credibility of the league.
“The PCB takes the health, safety and wellbeing of its players and officials very seriously,” he said.
England batsman Tom Banton had claimed that he was one of the two foreign players who tested positive for COVID-19 and has been put under isolation.
PCB Director of Media Sami-ul Hasan Burney on Tuesday said that two foreign players and one member of the support staff had tested positive for the virus.
This was after Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed tested positive on Monday. Burney had not named the two players and the support staff member.
Last March when the COVID-19 pandemic spread in Pakistan, the Board was also forced to postpone the league but by that time the league stage matches had been completed and the tournament was completed in November.