The problem is believed to be a virus or bug rather than food poisoning, with England paying particular attention to what they eat with the help of a chef, Omar Meziane, who has traveled with the team for this tour. On Tuesday, however, some players reported unwell and were told to stay in their rooms to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
An ECB spokesperson confirmed the illnesses were unrelated to Covid-19, with players having vomiting and diarrhoea. There is hope that the virus will pass within 24 hours, but with the first of the three-game series starting at Rawalpindi on Thursday, England’s chances of a strong start are severely hampered. Root, speaking to media on Wednesday, acknowledged that discussions were underway about a delayed start of the game.
While playing conditions for the World Test Championship require all matches to be played within a five-day period, an ECB spokesperson confirmed that play would not have started under the current circumstances. Officials from the two boards – PCB chair Ramiz Raja and ECB’s Rob Key and Neil Snowball – have been in talks, with a final decision on the start time likely resting at the discretion of England’s team doctor.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation, but we don’t think it’s food related,” Root said. “I don’t think there’s any connection between the two and in fact the chef is also sick so I don’t think it’s the food.
“The point is we’ve been trying to bring a chef for a few years now. This is the first chance we’ve had to do it. Look at all the other international sports teams out there, even Premier League and Championship teams. teams have their own chef, so we think from a nutritional and performance side, we try to do everything we can to optimize ourselves and be in the right position to perform.”
“There will have to be Marcus Trescothick, Rob Key and Brendon McCullum as the new top three for tomorrow,” Root joked. “As far as I know there are a few guys that aren’t feeling 100 percent, but – I wasn’t feeling great yesterday, but I woke up better today – so hopefully it’s just a 24-hour virus and I don’t think it’s food it.” poisoning or Covid or something like that.
“I think it’s just one of those things that we’ve picked up on as a group unfortunately – we’ve tried to do absolutely everything, we’ve prepared really well for this game and sometimes life throws things at you, but we’ll do it do everything we can to be right tomorrow and be right and ready to go.”
Asked if he thinks everyone will be fit for selection on Thursday morning, Root said: “It’s hard to say, I didn’t see anyone this morning, we literally got straight on the bus, so the guys will do everything they can to be in that regard right, so time will tell.”
The outbreak took place at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad, where both England and Pakistan were staying along with members of the British media. England has taken over a second-floor wing and a sixth-floor executive lounge, which serves as their team room. They are not restricted in their movements around the hotel, except they can leave the 14-hectare heavily guarded complex.
It is not the first time that England has been struck by illness at the start of a tour recently. During the 2019-20 tour of South Africa, another bug swept through the side ahead of and during their Boxing Day test in Pretoria, with a number of players forced to leave the field of play to go to the toilet and take fluids. in separate dressing rooms away from the group. They went on to lose the Test. This particular virus spread so quickly that many England players wondered if they had been affected by an early version of Covid-19. But as it is now, the symptoms were very different.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s horrible,” said Root. “Running on and off the pitch all the time. But sometimes it’s part of where you are as a team. That [Centurion 2019] was very unfortunate because many of us got sick during the test match and didn’t start the match. But hopefully it’s not something we have to contend with and tomorrow everyone will turn up well and we can enjoy what is an exciting series and have cricket as a talking point.”
Root added that he did not know if reinforcements were being discussed as the Lions squad had flown home from Abu Dhabi with the Test squad at the end of last week’s warm-up, saying he did not expect he would act as captain. if Stokes is not passed fit.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “Ollie Pope did it recently and he would do a great job so we’ll see. Hopefully it’s not a conversation we need.
“It’s frustrating. Today is generally an optional session anyway, so a few of the guys wouldn’t have come anyway. There’s not much you can do except try to do the right things and hydrate yourself, and keep things away from the game that will serve you well overnight in preparation for tomorrow.
“It’s where we are as a team. Sometimes this happens, and if we’re all close together in the same hotel, it can spread. We’ve done what we can to mitigate that, and we’ll see how we shaping us tomorrow. It’s part of being on tour. Sometimes these things get thrown at you and that’s why you’ve got 15 guys here, so in case of an injury or illness you’re ready to go.”
Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo