On Thursday, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was postponed till further notice as three more players tested positive for COVID-19. In total, six players and one support staffer have tested positive in the last three days. How did we come to this? Was it the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) poor management of Javed Afridi’s bio-secure bubble breach or the irresponsible attitude of the players and franchise owners that led to the postponement? Let’s take a look.
Just on the second day of the tournament, Peshawar Zalmi’s captain Wahab Riaz and head coach Darren Sammy were barred from coming to the ground after they breached COVID-19 SOP’s. Allegedly, they met Javed Afridi, the owner of the team, who was not part of the bio-secure bubble.
Wahab and Sammy were directed to isolate for at least three days and had to return two negative tests before joining the team. On this, Peshawar Zalmi threatened to not travel to the ground and thus PCB cleared both Wahab and Sammy to join the team and participate in the match against Lahore Qalandars.
According to PCB’s statement on February 1,“Appeal on a player and official guilty of breaching bio-secure bubble in Friday, has been accepted. The two have been allowed to integrate with the side,” PCB said in a brief statement.
“The team has offered its regrets to the PCB on Friday’s breach and has thanked the PSL committee for accepting their appeal. They have further assured protocols will be followed and respected as everyone wants the PSL to succeed,” the statement added.
The relief given to Peshawar sent a wrong message to the other franchises and the organisers as they started taking COVID-19 protocols lightly.
Players’ irresponsible attitude
Furthermore, it is being reported that families of players entered the bubble without properly following the protocols. According to the PCB’s guidelines, all family members had to show their negative reports before entering the bubble but it seems like these weren’t followed.
While the PCB management is partially responsible for this laxity, but players can’t be exempted from the blame. The players themselves put their own health and tournament in jeopardy by reportedly mingling with fans, franchise staff, and other induidualas who were not part of the biosecure bubble.
During the course of PSL, we have seen franchise owners especially Karachi Kings’ Salman Iqbal sitting with the players during the matches. This raises a lot of questions: was he was part of the bubble or not?
A local private channel reported that, after yesterday’s game between Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi, the bus security officer was a bit late to reach the bus. On inquiring where he was, he said that he was offering prayer in the mosque. This would amount to another breach in the bio-secure bubble
Furthermore, before Fawad Ahmed tested positive, the ground staff were going to their homes after the matches.
More reports to follow
At the moment, only a few reports of breeches in the bio-secure have emerged and more incidents are expected to come to the light soon. PCB, the franchise management, and the players themselves will have to answer for their actions.
It must be remembered this is not the first time the PCB has been accused of being lax in the COVID-19 precautions. During Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand several cases were also reported in the team.