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Half of England cricket team ill with stomach bug in Pakistan ahead of Test

England's preparations have been thrown into disarray ahead of the first Test in Rawalpindi

England’s cricketers, including skipper Ben Stokes, have been struck down with a suspected stomach bug on the eve of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi which is likely to be delayed by a day because of the illness.

Reports in British media said the players were suffering from viral food poisoning.

Stokes himself is believed to be one of the most seriously affected by the virus that is impacting both in terms of vomiting and diarrhoea and it was left to Joe Root to step in as England’s representative the day before the game, according to a report in UK’s Mirror newspaper.

“Several players and staff members, including England captain Ben Stokes, are feeling unwell and have been advised to stay at the hotel to rest up,” said the England and Wales Cricket Board in a statement.

About half of the playing squad of 16 has been hit, according to the BBC, with only five taking part in an optional training session with around 14 members of the travelling party, including coaches and backup staff, advised to stay at the team hotel.

Only Joe Root, Zak Crawley, Harry Brook, Ollie Pope and Keaton Jennings were the players at training on Wednesday, while the entire team had trained on Tuesday.

Problems with food and players becoming ill during the Twenty20 series led to the decision to bring a chef, Omar Meziane, who also worked with the England men’s football team at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and at Euro 2020.

England and Pakistan will contest a three-Test series with the second in Multan beginning December 9 and the third in Karachi from December 17-21.