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 biosecurity 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 travelling party will depart on a chartered flight on 2 January and undergo quarantine in Hambantota before the first Test match in Galle begins on 14 January. The second Test will also be in Galle, starting on 22 January.

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

Players are expected to be offered mental health screening before 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 wellbeing is the absolute priority for us.”

The 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.