Despite the touring team bringing their own chef, England’s cricketers, including captain Ben Stokes, have fallen ill with a suspected stomach bug on the eve of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. The unveiling of the series trophy by the two captains on Wednesday was postponed to give Stokes more time to heal. “Several players and staff members, including England captain Ben Stokes, are feeling unwell and have been advised to stay at the hotel to rest up,” said the England and Wales Cricket Board in a statement.
According to reports in the British media, the players had viral food poisoning. According to the BBC, about half of the 16-member playing squad has been affected. Only five of the players participated in an optional training session, and coaches and backup staff were advised to stay at the team hotel with the remaining 14 members of the traveling party.
Players Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope, and Keaton Jennings attended practice on Wednesday along with head coach Brendon McCullum. The entire team had practiced on Tuesday. England may need to alter the lineup for the Test that was initially announced on Tuesday due to the viral epidemic.
Liam Livingstone, an all-arounder for Lancashire, will make his Test debut on Thursday, and Ben Duckett, an opener, was called up for his first Test in six years. After their Twenty20 team played seven matches there two months ago and won the series 4-3, England is on their first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years.
The decision to bring a chef, Omar Meziane, who also worked with the England men’s football team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and at Euro 2020, was made in response to issues with food and players becoming ill during the Twenty20 series. In a three-match series, England and Pakistan will play the second test in Multan on December 9 and the third in Karachi on December 17–21.