Rossendale Free Press

England looking to avoid wide outbreak

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ENGLAND are crossing their fingers that they have avoided a wider Covid-19 outbreak after Moeen Ali’s positive test cast an early shadow on their tour of Sri Lanka.

The full squad were given a clean bill of health prior to departure and again after quick turnaround testing on arrival in Hambantota on Sunday, only for the more sophistica­ted PCR process to show Moeen was carrying the virus.

He will now self-isolate for a 10-day period up to January 13 – the day before the first Test in Galle – with Chris

Woakes advised to do likewise for a minimum seven days after being identified as a ‘close contact’ of Moeen’s.

England will hope the strict measures in place on the trip have been successful in preventing further infection, with the touring party hosed down with disinfecta­nt spray after disembarki­ng their charter flight and then kept in solitary quarantine in the Shangri La Hotel for the past 48 hours.

That restrictio­n was due to be lifted on Tuesday, pending a further batch of tests, but plans for the team to begin training have been delayed until Wednesday at the earliest.

Should Moeen remain the only impacted player, Joe Root’s men would be able to pick up their plans with only a minor delay and a reduced spin department. Further infections would present an altogether more difficult equation.

England have been forced to abandon their last two internatio­nal assignment­s due to the pandemic – the original Sri Lanka series back in March and last month’s white-ball trip to South Africa, where a spate of positive results derailed the ODI leg.

Two English representa­tives received ‘false positives’ during the latter, but those came from less sophistica­ted lateral flow tests and there no suspicion of an incorrect diagnosis where Moeen is concerned. The ECB will transport the 33-year-old from the current team hotel to a private establishm­ent in Galle on Tuesday, meaning he would theoretica­lly be available to line up in the first Test the day after his isolation window ends.

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