Ashley Giles "Very Confident" England Players Did Not Breach Covid Protocols
England team director Ashley Giles defended his players after seven members of the ODI contingent tested positive for COVID-19.
- Seven members of England's ODI contingent tested Covid-positive
- Three of them are players
- Ashley Giles said he is confident none of them breached Covid protocols
England team director Ashley Giles on Tuesday defended his players, saying not a single one of them broke the COVID-19 protocols set out by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Giles remarks come as three England players and four members of the backroom staff tested positive for Covid-19 and as a result, the management had to choose a completely different squad for the series against Pakistan. The first choice team has been sent into isolation and now Ben Stokes would lead England in the ODI series against Pakistan.
"I'm very confident the players haven't breached any of those protocols. We can't say where it (the virus) originated, but we can identify how some of this has developed through close contact. We haven't gambled. I don't believe we've gambled at all. We are fully aware of the risks and we are aware of the knife-edge that we are working on all the time," ESPNcricinfo quoted Giles as saying.
"We are trying to look after our people and keeping them safe while protecting the revenues of the whole game. It is a difficult balance to strike. Let's stop talking about relaxed protocols. If we haven't got sole use of hotels, if we have grounds with crowds and you have staff coming in and out of the environment then, however much testing you do, there is going to be a risk. We are seeing an almost-impossible situation as society opens and the virus is still spreading," he added.
The ECB on Tuesday named an 18-strong group for the upcoming series against Pakistan. The announcement comes after the news that three members of the initial playing group and four members of the management staff had tested positive for COVID-19, and consequently, the entire squad initially selected was required to isolate.
Ben Stokes will return to the squad to captain the side and Chris Silverwood, who had been due to take some time away during the white-ball series, is back as head coach. In total, there are nine uncapped players in the squad.
"We always hoped we would open up as society opened up. That was always the plan until the variant arrived. But actually what we had planned - in terms of much more access to families, eating outside, the normal freedoms other people are taking for granted right now - just didn't happen," said Giles.
"But if relaxing is allowing those guys to eat together or spend some time together - and they spend a lot of time in the dressing room together where that infection can happen - it's almost impossible to completely remove all risk from the environment," he added.
Further talking about the Covid-19 protocols, Giles said: "This year's protocols have been very close to last year's protocols. Guys were able to go and play golf, as they were last year under the right risk assessments. There was a period at the start of the trip when, after a risk assessment, guys were able to go and exercise outdoors and grab a takeaway coffee. But that was it."
"That was two-and-a-half weeks ago when the country was in a different place. Since that point, the squad have been living under very tight restrictions, so this is a frustration for everyone," he added.
England will play Pakistan in three ODIs and as many T20Is. The ODI series will begin on Thursday and the third and final match will be played on July 13.