England confirm behind-closed-doors cricket tour of Sri Lanka next month

England confirm behind-closed-doors cricket tour of Sri Lanka next month

England will play two Test matches behind closed doors in Sri Lanka next month, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced.

The ECB reportedly has ramped up bio-security plans in a bid to avoid a repeat of this week’s abandonment of the South Africa tour and players will isolate for three days after arriving in Sri Lanka as well as undergoing full coronavirus testing every two days throughout the trip.

The first Test will start on 14 January with the travelling party departing on a chartered flight on 2 January and being subject to quarantine in Hambantota.

England had been due to undertake a similar two-Test trip to Sri Lanka in March this year, but it also ended with the tourists leaving early as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold.

Players are expected to be offered “mental health screening” ahead of the tour after growing concerns over a coronavirus outbreak inside the team’s bubble in South Africa.

Ashley Giles, managing director of England men’s cricket, made the commitment this week, saying: “These guys have been living in bubbles for long periods of time and their mental health and well-being is the absolute priority for us.”

Opener Rory Burns has already indicated he could miss at least part of the tour as he stays at home to attend the birth of his first child. But Jonny Bairstow is set to return to the squad after pulling out of his contract with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League in order to make himself available.