Brisbane Heat’s Afghanistan recruit Mujeeb Ur Rahman has tested positive for Covid-19. The 19-year-old spinner was in quarantine at a hotel in Queensland after travelling from Kabul ahead of the start of the tenth edition of the Big Bash League.
According to a Heat media statement, Mujeeb, the No. 2-ranked T20I bowler in the world, reached Brisbane last week, but reported symptoms during his mandatory quarantine this week. He is understood to be recovering at a Queensland hospital according to an Associated Press report, and will remain under the watch of the Queensland Health Department until he is cleared to link up with the Heat.
Covid-19 concerns around Mujeeb came a week out from the Heat’s season opener against the Melbourne Stars in Canberra, meaning Mujeeb could well miss the Heat’s two matches in the Australian capital.
“We will work with the relevant authorities to ensure the integrity of the competition and well-being of the player are suitably addressed. He is a young man far from home and we will ensure he is looked after,” Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson said in the statement.
Alistair Dobson, the head of the Big Bash Leagues, emphasised that all health and safety protocols would be followed keeping the well-being of Mujeeb and the wider community, within the state’s cricket framework and beyond, in mind. “The health and safety of our players, staff and the wider community is our top priority this season. Both Mujeeb and the Brisbane Heat have our full support and we will ensure all Queensland Government protocols continue to be followed as he recovers.”
Ishant Sharma gets stitches on bowling hand, but ‘expected to recover in time’ for England Tests
The fast bowler hurt himself while trying to stop a Ross Taylor drive on the last day of the WTC final
Sharma tried to stop a drive from Ross Taylor in what turned out to be the penultimate over of the final. He left the field with his hand bleeding, having bowled only two balls in his seventh over, with Jasprit Bumrah completing it.
“Ishant has had multiple stitches on his middle and fourth finger in his right hand. However, it is not very serious,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by PTI. “The stitches will be off in around ten days and with six weeks left for the first Test against England, he is expected to recover in time.”
The Indian team is having a break of three weeks after the conclusion of the WTC final, which New Zealand won by eight wickets.
“The squad travelled together to London. From here they can all leave for their respective destinations within the UK for a 20-day break,” the official said.
However, once the team reassembles in London on July 14 and proceeds to Nottingham, they are unlikely to get warm-up first-class games against English county sides. They will instead play intra-squad games at the Riverside ground in Durham.
“Well, that doesn’t depend on us. We obviously wanted first-class games, which I believe have not been given to us,” Kohli had said. “I don’t know what the reasons for that are. But yeah, other than that I think our preparation time will be ample for us to be ready for the first Test.”
While it is understood that the BCCI had requested the ECB for a few practice games, the Covid-19 situation won’t allow any such plan to go ahead.
“Due to Covid-19 protocols, they will play two intra-squad four-day matches before the first Test in August,” an ECB spokesperson told PTI on Friday. Asked if there is any chance of a game against county sides, the spokesperson said, “No”.
In England, cricketers from various counties are regularly being tested for Covid-19 but are not being kept in any bubble. But the Indian team would again be in a bubble once they move to Durham.
“The domestic cricketers of England not being in a bubble is an issue for sure. That’s why the games in Durham will be intra-squad ones,” the BCCI official said.
India are currently travelling with 24 players – 20 in the official squad and four reserves – which would thus allow them to play intra-squad games.
Eng vs SL 2021 – Jos Buttler ruled out of Sri Lanka white-ball series with calf injury
Dawid Malan added to ODI squad after MRI scans reveal small calf tear
Buttler, England’s vice-captain and wicketkeeper, scored an unbeaten 68 opening the batting in the first T20I. According to the ECB, he “felt tightness and discomfort” at the end of the game and was sent for an MRI scan on Thursday morning, which revealed a small tear. He sat out the second T20I, which England won by five wickets.
England had already suggested they may use the Sri Lanka T20Is to experiment, with Jonny Bairstow moving up to open in Buttler’s absence – although he made a three-ball duck as England initially struggled in their chase of 112. Liam Livingstone, whose unbeaten 29 helped secure victory, regularly opens in T20 cricket and could also deputise.
Dawid Malan, the No. 1-ranked T20I batter, has been added to the ODI squad, with Bairstow and Sam Billings in contention to take the gloves in the 50-over format. Billings scored his maiden ODI hundred last summer and would have been vying for a middle-order berth, regardless of Buttler’s availability.
“In terms of ODIs I had a really good summer last year and averaged 83 in that format so I would be pretty disappointed if I didn’t get a gig but this team is a very hard one to get into to,” he said.
England have already secured the T20I series ahead Saturday’s third match, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The teams will then play three ODIs, at Chester-le-Street, The Oval and Bristol.
ENG vs SL 2nd T20I – Mickey Arthur on England and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s head coach said he wants the batsmen to be more proactive against a world-class England attack
“Just not enough runs again,” Arthur told the BBC, when asked for his take on his side’s defeat. “We’re coming up against a really good bowling attack. They’re ranked No. 1 in the world, we’re ranked No. 9, and you can see the difference. We’ve started a journey with a young team and for us it’s about getting better, competing, learning from every game and every experience and getting better and better as we go along.
“It’s tough. We’re consistently talking about freedom, about taking the handbrake off as a batting unit. But you can only bat as well as you’re allowed to and I thought England were world-class with the lengths they hit. They put us under a lot of pressure with the bat.
“We can be more proactive and we’ve got to go back and work on that. We can walk around the crease a little bit more and try to do different things but our batters are learning all the time, particularly in these conditions. We’ve got a really exciting batting unit in our conditions but it’s about transferring those skills to conditions outside our own environment.”
“I thought we bowled really well,” he said. “Our fielding has gone up to another level. Fielding is all about attitude, it’s measurable, and I think the guys are getting better and better with that. We’re really excited with our bowling unit and we’ve got a couple of guys that are injured as well, so when we get them back we’ll be good.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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