Cricket hasn’t been the same since the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams and players think twice before stepping out of the Bio-bubble and meeting fans. In what comes as a big surprise, England’s all-rounder Moeen Ali s tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Hambantota, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday. Ali will be in self-isolation for a period of 10 days after which he will be allowed to train with the rest of the team, provided he returns negative Covid-19 tests. England squad arrived in a chartered plane from London on Sunday as Sri Lanka government suspended commercial flights arriving into the country from the UK in a bid to tackle the spread of the virus in the island nation. The entire squad along with the support staff had tested negative for Covid-19 before their departure from London.


“Following PCR tests administered on arrival at the airport in Hambantota on Monday 4th January, The England and Wales Cricket Board can confirm that Moeen Ali has tested positive for COVID-19,” the ECB said in a statement. “Ali will now observe a period of 10-days self-isolation, in accordance with the Sri Lanka Government’s protocol on quarantine.” Along with Ali, fast bowler Chris Woakes has also been asked to self-isolate after being understood to have been a possible contact. “Chris Woakes has been deemed as a possible close contact, and he will observe a period of self-isolation and further testing. The touring party will be PCR tested for a second time on Tuesday morning. At this stage, the team will train for the first time on Wednesday,” the statement further said. Ali was, alongside Dom Bess and Leach, one of three front line spinners in the main Test squad. There are, however, three more (Mason Crane, Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi) among the players on standby. England included three spinners in the team that won in 2018.


The news comes three days after Joe Root, England’s captain, said that a positive test would not necessarily put an end to the tour, instead suggesting that the squad would have to “manage it as [well] as possible”. England’s last two overseas tours – to Sri Lanka in March 2020, and South Africa in December – have been abandoned early due to concerns about the virus. “They are decisions that have to be made by the medical staff and the people entrusted in making those decisions. I don’t think it’s a player decision, even though guys have the opportunity to opt out if they don’t feel safe,” Root said.

By Arvind Krishnan

Cricket writer, statistician and analyst. An unorthodox media student, marketing runs in his blood. Sports Marketer and analyst.