According to Sri Lankan authorities, on Wednesday, England cricketer Moeen Ali has been infected by the new UK variant of the coronavirus. The cricketer tested positive for COVID-19 on his arrival in the country 10 days ago.
According to a report by AFP, Deputy Chief Epidemiologist Hemantha Herath told reporters in Colombo that the 33-year-old England all-rounder was Sri Lanka’s first case of the UK strain, which is believed to be more transmissible. The health ministry said extra precautions were ordered to ensure Moeen did not spread the new variant in the country — which is battling an upsurge in infections — but did not elaborate on what they were.
Moeen Ali had returned positive results for COVID-19 on January 4, after reaching the Island country. The entire squad was then retested on January 5 and training was only allowed after the rest of the squad had returned negative results for their tests. Meanwhile, Moeen Ali was sent in quarantine and so was Chris Woakes since he was in close proximity with the 33-year-old.
While Woakes was tested negative, he is still doubtful for the first Test. Meanwhile, Moeen Ali’s 10-day quarantine has been extended after he complained of fatigue.
The two-match Test series between England and Sri Lanka starts on January 14 with both matches to be played in Galle.
The 33-year-old all-rounder’s absence is a huge hurdle for England, especially considering his past performances in Sri Lanka. Ali was England’s joint-highest wicket-taker when the team had last come to Lanka in 2018 and claimed a 3-0 series triumph.
In his absence, the onus would be on Jack Leach and Dom Bess to deliver the goods for England in the spin department.