England touring party tests negative for coronavirus after arriving in Sri Lanka for Test series; group sprayed with disinfectant after landing in Hambantota; England will train on Tuesday afternoon if another batch of coronavirus tests comes back negative
England’s Test team have arrived in Sri Lanka amid stringent coronavirus protocols ahead of the two-match series later this month.
The touring party underwent Covid-19 tests – which have all come back negative – and were sprayed with disinfectant by staff in full protective suits after arriving on a chartered flight into Hambantota.
England – whose entire touring party had tested negative for coronavirus before departure from London – will now isolate in their individual hotel rooms in Hambantota until Tuesday afternoon.
The entire group will be tested again for coronavirus on Tuesday morning and if all results come back negative, they will be able to train for the first time later that afternoon as they prepare for the first Test from January 14.
Both Tests will take place behind closed doors in Galle, with the second game beginning on January 22, after which England will fly to India for a four-Test series against Virat Kohli’s men.
England’s series in Sri Lanka was scheduled to take place in March 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic while the tourists were amid a warm-up game.
There are strict measures in place to cope with coronavirus in Sri Lanka, which has reported 211 deaths and 44,371 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Sri Lanka government suspended commercial flights arriving into the country from the UK last month, meaning England had to travel via a privately chartered plane.
Sri Lanka’s men’s team are currently playing the second and final Test of their series in South Africa – Dimuth Karunaratne’s injury-hit men lost the opening game by an innings at Centurion.
Root backs Buttler as first-choice wicketkeeper
Root has said it will take a “really unique situation” for Jos Buttler to lose the wicketkeeping gloves in Sri Lanka despite the presence of Ben Foakes in their squad.
Foakes was England’s Player of the Series when they sealed a 3-0 sweep in Sri Lanka in late 2018, scoring 277 runs at an average close to 70, and is widely regarded as one of the game’s finest keepers.
However, the 27-year-old’s last Test appearance came in the West Indies in early 2019 and he seems set to remain as back-up with Root seeing no reason to make a change after Buttler’s strong home summer in 2020, which included a career-best 152 against Pakistan.
Root said: “When it comes to the selections of the teams, we’ll look at the conditions, consider everything and make a call when we’re out there.
“What I will say is we’ve got Jos coming off the back of a 150 and in probably some of the best form you’ve seen him in in Test cricket. As far as I’m concerned, it will have to be a really unique situation for that to change.
“Jos, as a senior member of the squad in great form, was an integral part of our success in the backend of the summer. I’m really excited for him to carry that form forward.”