Moeen Ali tests positive for Covid-19 in Sri Lanka

LONDON (Agencies): England all-rounder Moeen Ali tested positive for Covid-19 in Sri Lanka after the team’s arrival on the island, the country’s cricket board said Monday.

The tourists, led by Joe Root, arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday as airport officials in hazmat suits sprayed the team with disinfectant before being tested.

“Ali will now observe a period of 10 days self-isolation, in accordance with the Sri Lanka Government’s protocol on quarantine,” the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement.

“Chris Woakes has been deemed as a possible close contact, and he will observe a period of self-isolation and further testing.” Moeen, 33, is part of an 18-man England squad, with seven additional reserve players, in Sri Lanka for a two-Test series in Galle starting January 14. The left-handed batsman and off-spin bowler is likely to miss the opening Test.

The rest of the players will be tested for a second time on Tuesday morning and the team will train for the first time on Wednesday, the statement added.

England, whose tour of South Africa last month was cut short over coronavirus fears, had cancelled their Sri Lanka tour in the early days of the pandemic in March. The England team’s chartered flight was permitted to enter Sri Lanka despite a ban on all flights and passengers from the UK following the discovery of a new, more infectious coronavirus strain.

An England spokesman said that “all England players socially distanced on the plane”. The players are already in isolation in their hotel rooms until Tuesday.

They will then be allowed to train in a ‘bubble’ at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota until later this week. Moeen, who was England’s joint highest wicket-taker alongside Jack Leach in their 3-0 series win in Sri Lanka in 2018, is one of three spinners, including Dom Bess and Leach, in the main squad.

Mason Crane, Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi are the three slow bowlers on the reserve list.