The United Kingdom reported a further 42,302 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since January 15.

On a day when former India legend Kapil Dev urged citizens to protect themselves from the dreaded coronavirus, the Indian cricket team on English soil was rocked by the Covid scare. This was after wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and training assistant/net bowler Dayanand Garani tested positive. Bowling coach Bharath Arun, Wriddhiman Saha, and Abhimanyu Easwaran have also been asked to isolate themselves after coming in close contact with Garani.

However, these developments have set the alarm bells ringing across the cricket fraternity. Former England captain Michael Vaughan raised concerns over the upcoming five-Test series between India and England, saying a change to COVID-19 related isolation laws is the need of the hour.

“I fear for the 100 & the Indian Test series unless the isolation laws change .. we are bound to have cases as is the case with @RishabhPant17.. plus further down the line I fear the Ashes could be hugely affected with players pulling out unless bubbles/quarantine rules change!” Vaughan wrote on Twitter.

Former India seamer Mohit Sharma spoke to indianexpress.com and said that it would be unfair to implement stringent rules for those in the bubble. He also raised a pertinent question as to how will a completely foolproof method be devised so that players do not come in close contact with anyone outside of the bubble environment.

“The virus can catch anyone from anywhere. It is very difficult to predict now. The entire of England was out on the streets during the Euros, how will u stop people?” he inquired.

“As far as the series being affected is concerned, I think only time will tell. I hope it does not get cancelled. But I am sure the Indian team will be waiting for Pant to get back and train,” he added.

After Pant returned with a positive result more than a week back, fans were quick to point a finger at him for not wearing a mask. Pant was among the attendees at the Wembley stadium to watch an England vs Germany Euro match on June 30.

However, he has received support from Mohit Sharma and former India pacer RP Singh requesting fans not to judge him harshly.

“It is unfair to blame him. More than half of England was outside on the streets during Euro,” said Sharma.

” It’s a tough time for everyone dealing with Covid 19 so please don’t judge players harshly. They need our support,” tweeted RP Singh. Former India cricketer Suresh Raina and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh wished him a speedy recovery.

On average, the United Kingdom has been reporting about 410 cases per million people over the past week, one of the highest cases in the world per capita. It reported a further 42,302 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest daily increase since Jan. 15

ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, has defended his board’s decision to relax the bio-secure environments.

Explaining the reason, he said, “We want people to be feeling like their life is delivering for them, both at home and as professional cricketers, men and women. We don’t want to be closeting players in such a place where they feel like the only role they play in their life is to is to go out and bat and bowl for whatever team they’re playing.”

“I think that’s a bad place for us to be,” Harrison added in a virtual press conference.

“We have to be understanding about what it is to be a responsible employer, to be able to get the best back from players. That’s by treating them like adults, and talking and communicating openly about how we best mitigate the impacts of this ongoing pandemic.”

“We are working through that at the moment,” he said. “Clearly we’ve got to make sure that we protect the India series.

As of Thursday, the entire Indian team sans the six were off to Durban where they will begin their preparations with a three-day warm-up game at Emirates Riverside against County XI starting next Tuesday.

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