'These are unprecedented times, cannot expect ideal situation' - Babar Azam reveals Pakistan never thought of calling off England tour

Speaking about England’s new-look squad, Azam confessed, “We know most of them however there have been a few new faces within the squad.”

Babar Azam
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Babar Azam. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Pratyay Tiwari
PRATYAY TIWARI

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Pakistan’s all-format captain Babar Azam admitted on Wednesday (July 7) that the team never had any thoughts to call off their England tour despite as many as seven host members – three players and remaining support staff – contracting with Covid-19. Following the development, England was forced to name a fresh 18-man squad and a new coaching setup on the same day.

Ben Stokes, who was not named in the original squad, was called in to replace Eoin Morgan, while the team now wears a depleted look with no less than nine members uncapped. All players involved in the recent Sri Lanka ODI series, which hosts England won 2-0, with the third game washed out, have been asked to self-isolate.

In a virtual press conference, Azam stated that the times are unprecedented and ideal conditions cannot be expected therefore. “The PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) have assured us that they will take care of the safety and health of all the squad members.”

“We must understand that these are the unprecedented times of Covid-19. Then again, I want to acknowledge my players that are spending time in bio-secure bubbles and we have prepared in that. We are focusing on cricket and tomorrow’s game. Of course it was disappointing news and we must understand that we would not get the ideal situation because of the Covid situation.”

We know most of them but there were a couple of new faces: Babar Azam

Speaking about England’s new-look squad, Babar Azam confessed, “We know most of them however there have been a few new faces within the squad.”

“We sat together with the analyst, we worked on them, we have seen footage of their county matches and we will not take any player playing for England lightly. I know a few of them having played in the (English county) T20 Blast and those we don’t know we have researched their performances. We are expecting good cricket tomorrow.”

“I have been in good touch and I know my responsibilities,” Azam, currently ranked No. 1 in ODIs, stated.

The series gets underway on July 8 in Cardiff, with subsequent ODIs to be played on July 10 and 13 at Lord’s and Birmingham, respectively. The 50-over series will be followed by three T20Is, scheduled between July 16 to 20.