JOE ROOT and his England players will face their toughest anti-Covid restrictions yet during the tour of Sri Lanka.
The team experienced the measures in place to make sure the two-Test series is completed as soon as they walked off the plane on Sunday.
England’s masked squad of 22 players plus backroom staff had their hands, shoes and luggage sprayed with disinfectant by a dozen-strong team wearing white hazmat suits before being allowed into the airport terminal.
Once inside, the party underwent their latest nose and throat swab tests for coronavirus. All tests returned negative results.
England’s arrival comes as Sri Lanka faces a surge in coronavirus deaths and infections.
The latest figures from Johns Hopkins University show that Sri Lanka, previously one of the least-affected countries in the world, has 44,371 cases and 211 deaths – up from 3,300 and 13 in October.
The World Health Organisation believe the reason is probably a new strain of the virus, which might have come from Scandinavia.
England flew from Heathrow airport on a British Airways charter and landed in the town of Hambantota – said to be the quietest international airport in the world.
They will stay at a luxury hotel and golf resort but must isolate in their rooms until Tuesday at the earliest.
It began pouring with rain almost as soon as England arrived at the hotel.
Under protocols agreed between the ECB and Sri Lanka Cricket, players and management will be allowed to play golf.
But, generally, the restrictions will be tighter than on their recent tour of South Africa.
The players were so spooked by some positive tests at their hotel in Cape Town they insisted on flying home.
Now the team is travelling with a psychologist, Dr James Bickley, to help any players who might struggle with the regulations and isolation.
With England having aborted their last two overseas tours, captain Root insisted some positive tests will not necessarily mean the end of the tour.
England are under huge pressure to complete the trip this time because West Indies, Pakistan, Ireland and Australia all flew to the UK last summer and fulfilled every fixture.
After their initial quarantine period, the team will begin training and are due to have a practice match among themselves.
They will then make the 75-mile journey by road to Galle around January 10 for the two Tests beginning on January 14 and 22.
England supremo Ashley Giles said: “The past ten months have been uncertain for us all but having international cricket return to Sri Lanka will be a massive boost for cricket fans all over the world.
“To play in Galle will be very special – it is one of the iconic venues in world cricket.”
The team hotel will be off-limits to the public and there are no plans to interact with locals.
But England will sign bats to be auctioned to raise money for two charities supporting victims of sexual violence in Sri Lanka.
SLC chief executive Ashley de Silva insisted the Covid-19 situation in the country was being monitored on a daily basis and added: “The tour will go ahead as planned.”
No written media will attend the matches and Sky TV and BBC Radio’s Test Match Special will both add commentary ‘off tube’ from studios in the UK.
Meanwhile, India's tour of Australia is in jeopardy after five players from the visiting party were filmed eating inside a restaurant in Melbourne in what appears to be a breach of bio-secure protocols.
Source: Read Full Article