The Pakistan Super League was postponed indefinitely on Thursday after a further three unnamed players tested positive for Covid-19.
As revealed by Sportsmail, Somerset’s England duo Lewis Gregory and Tom Banton plus a local coach followed Australia leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed in contracting the virus inside a tournament ‘bubble’ that appeared to have been breached by outsiders coming and going at the Karachi hotel housing all six squads and support staff.
A ‘trickle effect’ as Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan called it, took the confirmed number of infections to seven and led to a Twenty20 tournament featuring 13 English players being terminated.
Tom Banton is among the seven positive coronavirus tests in the Pakistan Super League
‘It was a great disappointment that we found ourselves in a situation where neither us nor others were able to provide what we need to provide – and that is the full protection of players,’ Khan said.
‘The health and well-being of all the players comes first and foremost – above anything else.’
The PCB met with franchise owners on Thursday, 24 hours after upping their biosecurity protocols, but although they considered a five-day delay, Khan said there was a ‘strong consensus that it was untenable to continue.’
Arrangements were being made for overseas players to return home, although Gregory and Banton must complete their 10 days of self-isolation and test negative first, meaning they will not travel until after March 10, and will then be required to quarantine upon arrival here before joining pre-season training in Taunton.
The PCB have vowed to find a window to complete the final 20 of the 34 scheduled matches, although that will be easier said than done in an international calendar that features a Twenty20 World Cup and Ashes at its back end.
Islamabad United’s English star Lewis Gregory (centre) has also contracted the virus