A Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official while talking to the The Correspondent has said that the board will leave no stone unturned in providing bio-secure environment to the players in the training camp before the start of South Africa and Zimbabwe tour.

He said, “PCB has worked out a comprehensive plan for the contingent for their training camp and departure. The 35 member contingent will go under four tests, as per the requirements discussed and finalised with Cricket South Africa (CSA).”

“Yesterday, the first round of test was completed. Players and officials residing in Lahore came at the PCB headquarters for getting tested while the remaining one were tested in their respective cities.

“Before the squad leaves they will further have three more tests. The second round of tests will be done after the arrival of players in Lahore on March 18. The third and fourth rounds of tests will be done on March 21 and 24 in the hotel. In addition to this, no unauthorized person will be allowed on the floor where the team is staying,” he added.

The PCB has arranged a chartered flight for the travel unlike during the New Zealand tour whey they went via business class.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been under fire for its inability to implement the COVID-19 protocols due to which the Pakistan Super League (PSL) got postponed. Just a few months back, Pakistani contingent in New Zealand was almost sent back home after emergence of cases. This time around the

In the aftermath of PSL, the upcoming tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe is a big challenge for the PCB. From Pakistan playing T20 World Cup in India to hosting England and New Zealand later in the year, any mess up this time around could have serious repercussions both financially and the for the future of the sport in country.

PCB’s medical department seems to be in a total disarray after the resignation of Dr Sohail Saleem, who is serving his notice period. Dr Riaz Afridi taking who was previously heading the medical department at National Cricket Academy (NCA) has been given the responsibility of managing the bio-secure bubble in the training camp as well as on the tour. Can Dr Riaz handle this big assignment keeping in mind the training camp before the tour of England was cancelled due to lack of proper accommodation and COVID-19 protocols at the National High Performance Centre (NHPC).

The question is whether these SOPs will be implemented properly. Guidelines were there for the PSL bubble as well but the implementation part was missing big time.

In the past PCB has shown that it can give a safe environment to the players. From September to February, the board organised nine domestic tournaments without a single case reported. Series against Zimbabwe and South Africa were also completed without any fuss.

But the question is whether the PCB and the team management will be able to implement those SOPs which have been devised. Furthermore, the players also have to take responsibility and abide by the rules and regulations that have been chalked out for them.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) will be stringent about the COVID-19 protocols as they are already feeling the brunt of financial loss after the series against England was cancelled mid way and Australia refusing to visit for a three match test series afterwards. So any slip ups from Pakistan’s side will be dealt harshly.

Pakistan’s cricket is already marred by many controversies so all the stakeholders need to realise that there is no room for complacency this time around and we need to give a message that we are a responsible cricket playing nation.

The author is a feature writer at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk

The author and former editor of correspondent.pk has been working in the field for 15 years, focusing on sports, crime and investigative reports.

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