Moeen Ali’s awaited return to the England Test team has been extended as the all-rounder is ruled out of the first Test against Sri Lanka starting Thursday (January 14) in Galle, and is likely to miss the second Test as well which will commence on January 22.
Moeen was tested positive for Covid-19 on his arrival in Sri Lanka and has been in isolation since January 3. Earlier he was scheduled for a 10-day isolation period and was expected to be released on January 13th.
However, the Sri Lankan authorities have insisted, and with the all support of the England management, the all-rounder will remain isolated for an extended period. If he shows no symptoms, and tests negative, he will be released by Friday or Saturday.
While he could be available for the second Test, however, the visitors are expected not to rush Ali; considering players getting continuously injured while playing international cricket after a long break. After the Sri Lanka series, Joe Root’s side will travel to India for 4 Tests- which is when Moeen is likely to make his return to Test cricket after appearing in the whites for the Three Lions in the first Test in the 2019 Ashes.
In absence of Ali, Jack Leach will lead England’s spin bowling department in support of Dom Bess. Youngsters, Matt Parkinson, Mason Crane, and Amar Virdi are in the squad as other spin bowling options.
Chris Woakes also in isolation after sharing a car ride with Moeen Ali
Apart from Moeen Ali, England may also have to deal with the absence of their seam bowling all-rounder, Chris Woakes. Woakes was asked to spend 7 days in quarantine as he travelled with Ali from Birmingham to Heathrow in the same vehicle. Fortunately, even after sharing the same car with Moeen Ali, Woakes has returned a negative test and as a precautionary measure, he spent a week in isolation.
The right-hander says that they followed the covid protocols while travelling in the vehicle, and thanks to their discipline, Woakes didn’t contact with the virus.
As quoted by ESPNcricinfo, Chris Woakes said, “We took all the precautions: we wore masks; kept our distance as much as we could, and obviously tried not to touch anything. But you can only be so safe, I suppose. It was obviously the right thing to do to isolate once I arrived here and figured out that Moeen Ali was positive.”