Ireland game abandoned mid-match amid the sound of Covid bubbles bursting

Covid bubbles seem to be bursting all around the globe after the Bangladesh Emerging Players game against Ireland Wolves had to be abandoned mid-match after a positive test was returned by one of the touring players.

Both teams had been tested two days before the game and all the results had come back clear although a review finding that Ruhan Pretorius was positive was not received until he had bowled four overs in the game in Chattogram.

The cancellation of the first of five 50-over games between the teams came a day after the Pakistan Super League was postponed after 14 matches as the number of players and officials found to have contracted the disease rose to more than half a dozen.

Cricket Ireland announced on their website that after the original tests in Bangladesh showed no problems, “the game proceeded as per protocols. However, a review of results by mid-morning by the local laboratory detected one positive test in the Ireland Wolves squad.

“Play was suspended and the player was immediately isolated ahead of a further test”.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board confirmed that the other players would be tested again before the second match of the series on Sunday [March 7]

Ireland’s Paul Stirling is one of the overseas cricketers playing in the PSL. It was his team-mate Fawad Ahmed who was the first player to test positive, according to the PCB. He and his other Islamabad United team-mates were reported to have had rapid-fire tests in response, all returning negative results.

Two England white-ball internationals, Tom Banton and Lewis Gregory, both of Quetta Gladiators, were later found to have contracted the illness.

Some observers have pointed accusingly to the relaxing of a three-day quarantine imposed on the captain and coach of Peshawar Zalmi, Wahab Riaz and Daren Sammy, after they met their team owner, Javed Afridi, outside the bio-secure bubble, although several other questionable policies have subsequently been revealed – many in connection with a hotel that was said to still be allowing public functions to take place.

The PCB said an independent inquiry would follow but Wasim Khan, its chief executive, insisted at a press conference that “this isn’t about a blame game”.

Too late. One of those quick to jump on that bandwagon was Shoaib Akhtar, although he exempted Khan from criticism.

The former fast bowler spoke out on his You Tube channel, calling for scrutiny of the roles of the PCB medical panel and the body’s chairman, Ehsan Mani.

“You have to admit that this is the responsibility of the medical panel and the bio-secure bubble should have been properly maintained. There should be a strict inquiry against the medical panel,” he said

“The medical panel should not be spared… and I request the higher authorities because they played with the lives of the people.

“All the blame has been put on Wasim Khan, and he has been asked to face everything. Who has brought Wasim Khan? Ehsan Mani (brought him). Where is Mani Sahab? Is this the responsibility of Wasim Khan to answer here? Ehsan Mani should give the answer.

“No one should have any doubt about the PCB’s incompetence.”

That “incompetence” could have massive implications for planned tours to the country – England’s men are due to tour there for two T20s in October and the women’s team for a five-match T20 tour around the same time.