LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — English cricketer Alex Hales sparked the postponement of the Pakistan Super League hours before the playoffs were to begin on Tuesday by reporting he has symptoms consistent with the new coronavirus.
Hales, who was playing for the Karachi Kings, decided to return to England on Saturday to be with his family amid the virus outbreak and said he felt “perfectly fit and healthy” at the time.
He woke up on Sunday with a fever. By the time he also developed a dry and persistent cough, he was following government advice to self-isolate and hopes to be tested on Tuesday.
In light of Hales falling ill, PSL organizers took the decision to postpone the Twenty20 tournament in collaboration with the competing franchises.
“When we knew there’s a suspected case, we showed the responsibility,” Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said, hours before Hales announced publicly he had symptoms.
“The PCB had taken precautionary measures including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days,” Wasim Khan said. “The PCB also took the team owners of franchises into confidence on Tuesday morning before deciding to postpone the event.”
Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium was due to host the semifinals between top-ranked Multan Sultans and fourth-place Peshawar Zalmi, and Karachi Kings against Lahore Qalandars. The final was scheduled for Wednesday.
Hales was among foreign players contracted to the franchises who left Pakistan early in fear of border closures and virus fears.
Other foreign players who left included the West Indies Carlos Brathwaite, South Africa’s Rilee Roussow, England’s James Vince, and Sri Lanka’s Seekkuge Prasanna.
Hales said in a statement he had “reluctantly” left the PSL, adding: “I felt it was more important to be with my family than face a period of lockdown thousands of miles from home.”
He said he was waiting to get tested so he could get “absolute confirmation of my current health status.”
The PCB brought forward the finals by four days and barred fans from the stadiums at Karachi and Lahore for the last six matches.
The decision to postpone the event came a day after a test match and a one-day international between Pakistan and Bangladesh was postponed.
Multan allrounder Shahid Afridi said the PCB should have taken the decision earlier, and hinted that his franchise should be declared winners.
“Sad to see the PSL end, but health and safety of all concerned is the key, especially those who are travelling back to their homes,” Afridi posted. “Perhaps the decision could have been taken earlier, with regards to the trophy … well the table-topper should be handed the trophy?”
Khan said the PCB will reschedule the semifinals and final before the next edition of PSL, in 2021.
In Pakistan, there are 189 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Health officials say five more people who returned from Iran recently have tested positive. Pakistan’s border with Iran and Afghanistan remained closed on Tuesday.
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