Infectious disease specialists will try to understand why a wave of Covid-19 cases has erupted in the PSL
The investigation into the doomed treatment of the postponed Pakistani Super League biosafety proceedings will be led by infectious disease experts Dr Syed Faisal Mahmood and Dr Salma Mohammad Abbas. The two-person investigative committee will investigate the protocols that had been put in place for the league, examine what went wrong and submit its findings to CPC Chairman Ehsan Mani by the end of the month.
On the day PCB CEO Wasim Khan announced that the league had been postponed indefinitely, he promised an independent investigation into what was wrong when an outbreak in the bubble began to spread, with more cases emerging. presenting in each series of tests. There have been well-documented cases of non-adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), and experts are expected to assess whether these SOPs were fit for purpose in the first place.
Dr Syed Faisal Mahmood is Associate Professor in the Section of Infectious Diseases at Aga Khan University, while Dr Salma Muhammad Abbas is Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Lahore.
“The PCB takes the health and safety of its players, player support staff and match officials seriously,” Mani said. “We have demonstrated our due diligence in the international series against Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well as in the nine domestic events in which we have successfully hosted 220 matches. This included the T20 National Cup from 34 matches to Multan and Rawalpindi as well as the first and second raise the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and Pakistan Cup in Karachi. “
The PCB was keen to stress, following the PSL suspension fiasco, that the home season had so far been conducted with relatively few incidents. Late last year, the board pointed out that it had completed nearly 3,000 tests during the national season. But the fragility of accompanying measures – such as bio-secure bubbles and protocols – was evident, for example, in the number of players showing up with positive Covid-19 tests in New Zealand; More to the point, it was evident in the number of cases that emerged from the PSL’s fifth season playoffs, contested last November.
Regardless, what happened over the past week or so at the PSL undone any progress Pakistan has made in this regard, and Mani said he wanted the experts to provide a “honest, constructive and objective review. The independent group will consult with all relevant stakeholders, including event and hotel staff, medical and compliance officers, team members and the management, so that we can better understand how the cases arose. The independent committee will make such recommendations as it deems appropriate. “
Before the investigation even began, the debacle appears to be on the verge of claiming a scalp – board doctor and league protocol man Dr Sohail Saleem. But it’s unlikely to be the last, especially as more damaging facts continue to emerge in the fallout. The report the experts are supposed to submit should shed more light on precisely what went wrong.
Since Fawad Ahmed tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, organizers have rushed to try to bring a potential outbreak under control, but it was already too late. Other cases were discovered at several different franchises, meaning the league was not just dealing with an outbreak, but a number of them. On Thursday morning, when new cases in various franchises emerged, PSL 2021 was officially suspended.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor of ESPNcricinfo. @ Danny61000