England are set to name an entirely new squad for their upcoming one-day international series against Pakistan after a major Covid-19 outbreak within their camp, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Tuesday.

Tests administered in Bristol on Monday showed three players and four support staff returning positive results, with the rest of the group deemed to be close contacts and having to self-isolate as well.

But the ECB have insisted the three-match series against Pakistan, due to start on Thursday, will go ahead.

A new squad, to be captained by star all-rounder Ben Stokes, is due to be announced later Tuesday.

Stokes, who has been returning to full fitness by playing for county side Durham following a finger injury suffered playing in the Indian Premier League, is now set to make his first England appearance since March.

ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said: “We have been mindful that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio-secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak.

“We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall well-being of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions.

“Overnight we have worked swiftly to identify a new squad, and we are grateful to Ben Stokes who will return to England duties to captain,” he added.


Original article: https://www.news24.com/sport/cricket/stokes-to-lead-england-against-pakistan-after-covid-outbreak-in-squad-20210706