England touch down in Sri Lanka amid tight Covid-19 security


England’s cricketers touch down in Sri Lanka to be greeted by officials in hazmat suits spraying their clothes and bags with disinfectant, as Joe Root’s squad begin 10 days of Covid quarantine before two-Test series

  • England’s cricket team have arrived in Sri Lanka for their two-Test series
  • Players and coaches were greeted at the airport by officials in hazmat suits
  • Clothing and bags were sprayed with disinfection amid Covid-19 worries
  • The entire series will be played out in a bio-secure bubble this month
  • The England team now begin 10 days of quarantine before the first Test in Galle 

England’s cricket team arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday – and were immediately reminded this would be no ordinary tour.

A 23-man playing group, comprising of 16 squad members and seven reserves, and coaching staff flew in to Mattala Rajapaksa Airport in Hambantota on a chartered flight to be greeted by a small army of officials in full hazmat suits.

The touring party underwent coronavirus tests on arrival and had their clothes and bags sprayed with disinfectant. Wearing masks, they were ushered through the airport and onto a waiting bus.

The England cricket team touched down in Sri Lanka on Sunday to be greeted by officials in full hazmat suits who sprayed their clothes and luggage with disinfectant 

England captain Joe Root (right) wears a mask as the touring party arrive for the two-Test tour

England captain Joe Root (right) wears a mask as the touring party arrive for the two-Test tour

All players and staff tested negative for Covid-19 before departing from London on Saturday. A chartered flight was required because no commercial flights are currently able to land on the island.

They will now head to their base in Hambantota for 10 days quarantine in individual hotel rooms ahead of the first Test in Galle on January 14. Both Tests in the series will be played in Galle.

On Tuesday, they will undergo another set of tests and if they receive the all-clear the series will proceed as planned. 

England captain Joe Root has insisted the show will go on this time even if any of the players suffer illness, having seen England’s last two tours – the original trip to Sri Lanka in March last year and December’s white ball tour to South Africa – ended prematurely by the pandemic.

‘I don’t think a positive test will automatically bring an end to this tour,’ said Root of a trip that again will feature the strictest of protocols and England having to spend the whole month-long trip in a bio-secure bubble.

The players lined up to have their clothes disinfected by health officials outside the airport

The players lined up to have their clothes disinfected by health officials outside the airport

The England touring party now enter 10 days of quarantine before the first Test on the 14th

The England touring party now enter 10 days of quarantine before the first Test on the 14th

Officials in protective clothing were on hand to disinfect the England team's luggage

Officials in protective clothing were on hand to disinfect the England team’s luggage

A video posted on the England Twitter account showed the strict Covid security in Sri Lanka

A video posted on the England Twitter account showed the strict Covid security in Sri Lanka

Officials in white hazmat suits line up ready to disinfect the touring party's luggage

Officials in white hazmat suits line up ready to disinfect the touring party’s luggage

‘They are decisions that will have to be made by medical staff. It won’t be down to the players even though guys have the option to opt out at any stage if they don’t feel safe.

‘All we have to do is follow the guidelines as best as we possibly can and if we do that we’ll give ourselves the best chance of not being in that situation. We know the protocols if something was to happen.’

There was criticism of England from South Africa when Eoin Morgan’s side aborted their trip before the one-day series after three home players and a number of staff at the hotel which housed both sides tested positive.

But Root defended their actions, calling it a ‘unique’ situation’ and adding. ‘It was more a domino effect there if you like. As a player in that environment it felt as if there was no way out in terms of the virus once it began circulating on our side of the hotel.

Joe Root watches on from behind his mask as England arrived at Rajapaksa Airport

Joe Root watches on from behind his mask as England arrived at Rajapaksa Airport 

Sam Curran gives a thumbs up to the camera as he boards the bus to England's base

Sam Curran gives a thumbs up to the camera as he boards the bus to England’s base

Mark Wood makes his way to the waiting buses amid tight security for England's arrival

Mark Wood makes his way to the waiting buses amid tight security for England’s arrival

‘The anxiety of that building up over a period of time was significant and the guys didn’t feel safe. The decision was taken out of the players hands and that was that.’

Sri Lanka has seen 44,371 cases during the pandemic and 211 deaths, according to official figures.



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