In a grim reminder of how even the stringent of bubbles aren’t immune from the ongoing pandemic, England were on Tuesday (July 6) forced to rejig their entire squad for the Pakistan ODI series, beginning Thursday (July 8) in Cardiff.
The selectors had to name an entirely different playing contingent led by all-rounder Ben Stokes after four members of the first-choice squad gave COVID-19 positive tests and had to self-isolate with others deemed in their close contact.
Stokes will be captaining the England limited-overs side for the first time after recovering from a finger injury that he had picked up at the start of IPL 2021. The star cricketer wasn’t part of the original squad for Pakistan ODIs despite proving his fitness through T20 Blast fixtures for Durham but has been brought back now to play and lead the side.
As many as nine uncapped players are part of the revised England squad, including the likes of Zak Crawley, Will Jacks and Brydon Carse. The squad features most of those who have been on the fringes of the regular England side or as standbys on trips, with two notable exceptions of Gloucestershire left-arm pacer David Payn and John Simpson, the Middlesex wicketkeeper-batsman.
No recall for Alex Hales in rejigged England squad for Pakistan ODIs
Given the unexpected turn of events, the selectors will be pleased to have Dawid Malan available after the left-hander missed the Sri Lanka ODIs due to personal reasons. Danny Briggs has been handed a comeback after a seven-year gap, while Lewis Gregory and Phil Salt have been presented maiden call-ups despite recent injury concerns.
There was no recall for out-of-favour Alex Hales despite the opening batsman showing excellent form in domestic white-ball matches. Hales hasn’t been considered for selection since a fallout with skipper Eoin Morgan and the rest of the England squad upon failing a second recreational drugs test just before the 2019 World Cup.
With unforeseen circumstances playing themselves out, the members part of the revised England squad playing County Championship this week have been asked to immediately pull out of their clubs’ respective matches. These players, however, will be required to undergo PCR tests and follow all the protocols in place.
“It’s a great opportunity to play on the biggest stage, and for most of the players selected it’s not necessarily something they would have been expecting 24 hours ago,” Ashley Giles, the managing director of England men’s cricket, said in a media release.
“It’s an exciting group of players, with some young talent and some players who have impressed at domestic level over a long period of time. We’re in unprecedented territory, in terms of replacing an entire squad and management team, and I’m very proud of how everyone has come together in order to get it done – both those within the ECB and from the county game.”
“Ben hasn’t captained our ODI side before so it’s a huge honour for him. We all wish him well and it’s a role I’m sure he’ll thrive in. I’d like to also put on record the thanks of the ECB to the PCB for their support and understanding during this time.”
The series against Pakistan is part of England’s campaign in the ICC Super League, which determines direct qualification spots for 2023 World Cup.
England ODI squad: Ben Stokes (capt), Jake Ball, Danny Briggs, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Lewis Gregory, Tom Helm, Will Jacks, Dan Lawrence, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, David Payne, Phil Salt, John Simpson, James Vince, Zak Crawley, Will Jacks