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England then shocked Stokes, 13 others with an unidentified virus in Pakistan | Cricket

Multiple England cricketers, including captain Ben Stokes, have an unidentified virus ahead of their historic first test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi starting Thursday. As many as 14 members of the English touring company have been infected with the virus, British media reported on Wednesday. Only five players – Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings – attended optional practice on the eve of the series opener under the watchful eye of head coach Brendon McCullum, while the others were rested. The entire squad, except for the injured Mark Wood, participated in training the previous day.

The report further added that the symptoms of the virus are not related to Covid-19. Team spokesman Danny Reuben did not elaborate on the nature of the illnesses or give the exact number of England players affected. But he said in a statement that the sick players “were advised to stay in the hotel to rest.” Stokes’ absence forced the Pakistan Cricket Board to postpone the trophy’s unveiling by a day and the ceremony will now be held on the Thursday ahead of the Toss for the First Test.

Coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have defended England’s aggressive, risky and rewarding style and are unlikely to take a more conservative approach in the three-Test tour, which starts on Thursday.

Veteran pace bowler James Anderson said England’s only thought was to win.

“We have a captain and coach who don’t want a draw. We don’t play for a draw,” Anderson told BBC Sport.

Six wins in their last seven home games justify England’s new approach, but fans are eager to see if it can work just as well abroad.

The tourists have made a bold decision by selecting batting all-rounder Liam Livingstone, a highly sought-after Twenty20 player, to make his Test debut despite not playing red-ball cricket this year.

Anderson was part of the England team that toured Pakistan in 2005, although he only played the one-day leg of that series.

Security concerns kept England away from Pakistan for the next 17 years, until they arrived in September to field seven T20s on the first leg of their tour.

Anderson felt his experience from that 2005 tour would count for little and said England would need to quickly adapt to conditions in Rawalpindi, Multan and Karachi.

“Seventeen years is a long time,” said the 40-year-old.

“It’s a completely different team we’re playing against, completely different circumstances.

“It’s about adapting when we go out. We talk a little bit about the opposition, but mostly focus on what we’re good at – that’s what we did over the summer.”

Ben Duckett will open the at bat with Zak Crawley, while Joe Root is expected to share Jack Leach’s spinning burden with Livingstone.

(With input from the agency)


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