The outbreak of illness in the England squad is easing, which would surely allow the tourists a better buildup to the second Test against South Africa in Cape Town. As many as 11 players and another six members of the England support staff have been sick with a contagious flu-like illness at some point on the tour but Tuesday’s medical update was the most positive in the two weeks since the squad arrived in South Africa: “There are no further outbreaks,” the team said.
The second Test starts on Friday and England may be close to a fully healthy squad.
Opening batsman Dom Sibley was the latest player to go down sick, falling ill in the wake of the 107-run loss in the first Test in Centurion. But he’s improving, the team said and is expected to train with the squad at the Newlands ground on Wednesday.
Like Sibley, captain Joe Root, vice-captain Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Joe Denly also all played in the first test but were ill before or during the match. Batsman Ollie Pope was ruled out of the game and Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Jack Leach were also sick.
Many of the players had to be put in quarantine in an attempt to stop the spread of the illness. Root and Buttler were quarantined at the SuperSport Park stadium for a period of time during the third day of the first Test. Pope, Woakes, Wood and Leach were all in quarantine at the team hotel.
Root, Stokes, Buttler, Broad, Archer and Denly are expected to be fully recovered for Newlands and batsman Pope, seam bowlers Woakes and Wood, and spinner Leach are all out of quarantine and back with their teammates.
England made 268 all out chasing 376 to win the first test. Although it lost, it was still the highest fourth-innings score ever made at SuperSport Park.
That showed The England squad had been brought together by its off-field issues, head coach Chris Silverwood said. He used the word “galvanized”.
“We’ve seen a lot of character, a lot of guts and a lot of bravery from a few of the guys that have been poorly but have got themselves out there, got themselves up for it and shown a lot of fight,” Silverwood said.
“I’m proud of the guys in that respect, the amount of courage that they’ve shown. It’s almost pulled us together and made us stronger as a unit.”
Allrounder Stokes will especially be looking forward to a return to Newlands, where he hit a brilliant and career-best 258 on England’s last tour to South Africa in 2015-16. England won that series 2-1.