Cricket to welcome first full-house since the start of the pandemic

Cricket to welcome its first full-house since the start of the pandemic as 31,000 fans return to see England host Pakistan in second ODI… amid ECB fears that the game is on a knife edge due to rise in Covid cases

  • Lord’s will welcome its first full house since the start of the pandemic tomorrow
  • England host Pakistan at Lord’s in the second ODI of their three-game series 
  • The hosts have had to field an unfamiliar line up due to a Covid-19 outbreak
  • The ECB fear that the game is on a knife edge amid a rise in coronavirus cases 

Cricket welcomes back its first full-house since the start of the pandemic on Saturday as England’s hastily assembled bunch of white-ball reserves attempt to seal a series win over Pakistan.

Lord’s should be at its new 31,100 capacity, with the top tiers of the new Compton and Edrich stands now open, for the latest instalment of what so far has been a desperately disappointing one-sided white-ball international summer.

And the packed stands will be a little incongruous when juxtaposed with the Covid crisis in the England camp that saw the whole squad replaced at short notice for what still became a thrashing of Pakistan in the first one-day international at Cardiff.

Cricket will welcome its first full-house since the start of the pandemic for England v Pakistan

England have played behind closed doors or to partially full crowds during the Covid crisis

‘That’s something we’ve got to get our heads around,’ admitted Somerset’s Lewis Gregory, one of five ODI debutants in the nine-wicket victory at Sophia Gardens.

‘We are a bit different to the public and are having to be very careful again because we’ve seen the effect Covid can have on a squad.

‘It is slightly strange to be stuck in our hotel rooms when other people are roaming around free but equally it allows us to play in front of full houses and have this opportunity.’

Cricket remains on the knife edge described by England managing director Ashley Giles when he confirmed three players and four management had tested positive after the last ODI against Sri Lanka at Bristol and sweeping changes had to be made.

However, ECB chiefs remain concerned about the rising number of coronavirus cases

Ben Stokes leads an unfamiliar side for the Pakistan series after a Covid outbreak in the camp

England’s players are reluctant to go back to the strict bio-secure environment that enabled the ECB to stage a full international programme without a single positive test last year but the financial consequences of any postponement for the rest of this packed summer could be ruinous.

So the new squad playing under the captaincy of the one senior man in Ben Stokes are having to deal with tighter restrictions even though they will be in close proximity to thousands of people at Lord’s today.

‘Things have been tightened up again,’ said Gregory. ‘We had tests on arrival and another one the next morning because players came from a lot of different places but thankfully they all came back negative.

‘The ECB are on top of things and we’re keeping social distancing to the max. We all watched the football on our own on Wednesday but I don’t know if that will still be the case for the final. It’s a bit lonely but these are the times we’re living in.’

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