England’s tour to Sri Lanka got off to the worst possible start on Monday when Moeen Ali tested positive for Covid 19 and Chris Woakes was put in self isolation for a week.
Moeen will spend ten days in isolation as per Sri Lanka government requirements and will almost certainly miss the first Test which starts on Jan 14. Moeen was found to have Covid on Sunday when the squad were tested at Hambantota airport following arrival on a private charter flight from the UK.
Woakes has been deemed a close contact and will undergo a period of self-isolation for a minimum of seven days and further testing on Tuesday and on Friday.
The whole England squad will be tested again on Tuesday and there will be fears of further positive cases after a long ten-and-a-half hour flight together.
England were due to emerge from 48 hours of isolation on Tuesday to hold their first training session but that has now been delayed for 24 hours.
Moeen will be moved to a hotel in Galle, the venue for the two Tests, to observe his period of quarantine. He will come out of isolation the day before the first Test but it is difficult to see him playing any part given a total lack of preparation. Moeen has not played Test cricket since the 2019 Ashes in England and had been hoping to reclaim his place on this tour.
England have three spin bowlers as reserves in their expanded squad: leg spinner Mason Crane, Matt Parkinson and off-spinner Amar Virdi but they only have one Test cap between them.
Moeen becomes the first England player to test positive for Covid. Two members of the England touring party tested positive in South Africa last month but these were later confirmed to be false positives. The ODI series in South Africa was postponed after the England false positives and two members of the hotel staff also tested positive.
The England cricket team arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday amid strict anti-Coronavirus measures. Both Tests will take place behind closed doors in Galle.
There are strict measures in place to cope with coronavirus in Sri Lanka, which has reported 211 deaths and 44,371 cases according to John 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.