England have been given the green light to step up their preparations in Sri Lanka for two-Test series commencing January 14, beginning with an intra-squad warm-up match in Hambantota, after returning a second clear round of Covid-19 tests.
All-rounder Moeen Ali tested positive after arriving at Sri Lanka on last weekend and is in isolation continuing to observe a 10-day quarantine period having started to show mild symptoms, while all-rounder Chris Woakes is also in isolation having been identified as a close contact.
Moeen Ali Tested Covid-19 Positive While Chris Woakes Is Also In Isolation
But the remaining 22 players and the backroom team have now tested negative twice in four days and have been allowed to head to the pitch for practice intrasquad games with an XI led by Test captain Joe Root taking on wicket-keeper Jos Buttler’s side.
In the absence of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes, Surrey’s Ollie Pope was drafted in to make up the numbers despite only travelling with the squad to build up his fitness following a dislocated shoulder.
He was scheduled to open the batting for Team Buttler but has not been added to the official squad or reserve list.
England May Play As Many As 17 Tests In 2021
England plan to play for 100 overs on Friday and could choose to give both sides equal opportunities to play with the bat with the possibility of rain also in the region on Saturday. The first Test begins in Galle on January 14.
England have been allowed to take to the pitch for the first time since arriving in Sri Lanka ahead of their two-Test matches as the Europe side begin a gruelling year of Test cricket.
Joe Root’s side could play as many as 17 Test matches in 2021 and will be keen to get off to a positive start in their first five-day outing since wrapping up a 1-0 series win over Pakistan in August.
The jam-packed calendar includes further series against India – away and at home – and New Zealand before England head to Australia for the Ashes in the winter. England will in all probability play 4 Tests at Ahmedabad against India who will visit them to play 5 Tests.