Hales falls ill, sparks PSL postponement

Rizman Ali
The Pakistan Super League has been suspended after Alex Hales showed symptoms of coronavirus

English cricketer Alex Hales has sparked the postponement of the Pakistan Super League hours before the playoffs were to begin by reporting he has symptoms consistent with coronavirus.

Hales, who was playing for the Karachi Kings, decided to return to England on Saturday to be with his family amid the virus outbreak and said he felt "perfectly fit and healthy" at the time.

He woke up on Sunday with a fever. By the time he also developed a dry and persistent cough, he was following government advice to self-isolate and hopes to be tested on Tuesday.

In light of Hales falling ill, PSL organisers on Tuesday took the decision to postpone the Twenty20 tournament in collaboration with the competing franchises.

"When we knew there's a suspected case, we showed the responsibility," Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Wasim Khan said, hours before Hales announced publicly he had symptoms.

"The PCB had taken precautionary measures including consultation with relevant authorities and temperature screening of players, officials and media on match and non-match days," Khan said.

"The PCB also took the team owners of franchises into confidence on Tuesday morning before deciding to postpone the event."

Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium was due to host the semi-finals between top-ranked Multan Sultans and fourth-placed Peshawar Zalmi, and Karachi Kings against Lahore Qalandars. The final was scheduled for Wednesday.

Hales was among foreign players contracted to the franchises who left Pakistan early in fear of border closures and virus fears.

Other foreign players who left included the West Indies Carlos Brathwaite, South Africa's Rilee Roussow, England's James Vince, and Sri Lanka's Seekkuge Prasanna.

Hales said in a statement he had "reluctantly" left the PSL, adding: "I felt it was more important to be with my family than face a period of lockdown thousands of miles from home."

He said he was waiting to get tested so he could get "absolute confirmation of my current health status."

The PCB brought forward the finals by four days and barred fans from the stadiums at Karachi and Lahore for the last six matches.

The decision to postpone the event came a day after a Test match and a one-day international between Pakistan and Bangladesh was postponed.

Khan said the PCB will reschedule the semi-finals and grand final before the next edition of PSL, in 2021.