England’s cricket team arrived in Sri Lanka on Sunday to resume the Test tour which was postponed in March, 2020 in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The Joe Root-led squad landed at the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport where they underwent antigen tests.
The team’s aircraft was permitted to enter into Sri Lanka airspace despite a ban on all flights and passengers from the UK following the discovery of a new, infectious coronavirus strain. Also, only a handful repatriation flights and charters are allowed in the country since May. Due to the same reasons, England had the small airport to themselves.
“We are very excited about the Galle Tests,” Root told a small group of cameramen allowed into the terminal for their arrival.
Airport staff sprayed the hands and footwear of the visitors and their luggage before they were allowed into the terminal for coronavirus tests.
Ashley Giles, Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket, said the team was looking forward to playing the first Test at Galle from January 14.
“To play in Galle will be very special – it is one of the iconic venues in world cricket,” he said in a statement.
“The past 10 months have been uncertain for us all, but having international cricket returning to Sri Lanka will be a massive boost for cricket fans all over the world.”
The visitors will not interact with locals, but sign cricket bats which will be auctioned to raise money for two charities supporting victims of sexual violence in Sri Lanka, the British High Commission said.
Sri Lanka Cricket said the team’s hotel in the island’s southern district of Hambantota will be off limits for locals as part of quarantine regulations.
According to a SLC official the England squad, during the quarantine period, will split into two teams in order to play a practice match
The England cricket board confirmed their players and support staff had tested negative for the coronavirus prior to leaving.
The first Test match will be played in Galle from January 14, while the second match will kick start from January 22 at the same venue.