The Pakistan Super League has seen its knockout stages called off after Alex Hales, the England batsman, returned home early from the tournament and went into self-isolation due to symptoms that could indicate Covid-19.
Hales was among the overseas cricketers who opted to leave the PSL last week due to uncertainty over travel restrictions. On Monday the 31-year-old Nottinghamshire opener stated on Twitter: “Self-isolation begins… TV series to binge-watch please?!”, with that post subsequently deleted.
Ramiz Raja, the former Pakistan captain who has been commentating on the PSL, told reporters: “It is an unfortunate scenario. A good and right decision has been made in the end. The news is coming, you people will know more.
“Alex Hales has developed some symptoms and the tests are under way. We, the broadcasters and commentators, are also undergoing tests in the next two hours.”
It is understood Hales contacted his franchise, Karachi Kings, to make them aware of the situation, leading to concerns among their remaining squad members that ultimately escalated into a full cancellation of the PSL with three matches remaining.
Salman Iqbal, the owner of Karachi Kings, told ESPNcricinfo, “I have been asking for it to be postponed for the past two days, as we [PSL] was the only cricket going on. But, anyway, it’s a very good decision by the franchise owners and the PCB management.”
Wasim Khan, chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board, said: “A player is potentially suspected now. We can’t reveal the identity of the player. It is private and we won’t take his name.”
When Raja’s naming of Hales was put to him, Khan replied: “Well, we would like to keep the player’s name private, and we can only tell that he is an overseas player. And he is not in Pakistan at the moment. He has developed the symptoms in the last 24 hours.”
The PSL was the last cricket league standing amid the global pandemic and had seen a play-off system crunched down into two semi-finals and a final in order to hurry through the remainder of the tournament behind closed doors.
The semi-finals involving Multan Sultans, Peshawar Zalmi, Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars were due to be played on Tuesday in Lahore, with the final also at the Gaddafi Stadium 24 hours later. These may now be played at a later date as tournament officials decide how best to proceed.
Hales had spent a day socialising with England’s Tom Curran after returning over the weekend, with the Surrey seamer putting pictures of a darts match involving the pair and others on Instagram that have since been removed.
Surrey announced on Monday that six players have gone into isolation – some have reported symptoms, others on the basis of proximity – but opted against naming them. Tom Curran is said to not be among the six but the club’s medical team will now look into the situation further.