The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will launch an independent probe into any possible lapse which may have caused a breach in the safety protocol after the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) was postponed indefinitely with six players and a support staff testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
‘‘It’s been a very challenging day for us and all the stakeholders,’’ Wasim Khan, the CEO of PCB, said at a press conference in the afternoon. ‘‘The SoPs which were in place were the ones with which we had hosted two Test series, our own domestic T20 series and Qaid-e-Azam Trophy successfully. It’s not about a blame-game but fact remains maintaining a bio security bubble is also about trust. There will be an independent investigation to find out who all were responsible,’’ he said.
Earlier in the day, the PCB said in a statement that the decision to postpone the event was taken after a virtual meeting with owners of the six PSL franchises. ‘‘The PCB, as an immediate step, will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants,’’ the statement said, adding that it will also make arrangements of further COVID-19 testing, provide vaccines and will also assist in providing isolation facilities.
‘‘We had looked at a number of other options like suspending all action for five days and assess the situation. However, all the franchises were of the opinion that the health and safety of the players and support staff were paramount to us and hence the decision,’’ Khan said.
Karachi had already hosted 14 of the 20 preliminary round matches before the event was due to move to Lahore for the remaining 14 games on March 10. Incidentally, the league had to be postponed last year as well due to reports of a few cases just on the eve of the first semi-final - but the PCB had succeeded in finishing the tournament last November.
‘‘Going forward, we will aim to find a window at a later date when the tournament can be finished. We remain resilient as ever and want to complete the tournament within this year,’’ the PCB official said.
The tally of infected individuals in the PSL biosecure bubble rose to seven after three more unnamed cricketers from two teams tested positive for COVID-19.
A AP report says Islamabad United’s two foreign cricketers, including Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, an unnamed foreign cricketer and a support staff member from one of the team were already in isolation after being tested positive earlier this week.
According to the agency report, Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz and head coach Daren Sammy were allowed to rejoin their squad On February 21 after an appeal against a quarantine for breaching COVID-19 protocols was accepted by the PCB. Riaz and Sammy ‘‘breached’’ the team’s biosecure bubble two days earlier when they met with their team owner, who was not part of the biosecure bubble.
However, they rejoined the team following two negative COVID-19 tests after they were spared a three-day quarantine when their appeal was accepted by the PSL committee.