Moeen Ali will have to wait until the India tour in February for a chance to play Test cricket
England expect Moeen Ali to miss the entire Sri Lanka series after his emergence of quarantine was delayed by the Sri Lankan authorities.
Moeen was due to leave quarantine on Wednesday after testing positive for Covid-19 when the England squad arrived in Sri Lanka last week.
However, the Sri Lankan government have asked England to extend his 10 days of quarantine because he showed symptoms. There is also nervousness over the new Covid variant sweeping across the UK.
England are happy to agree to the request and expect him to leave quarantine on Friday, which means Moeen theoretically could be available for the second Test that starts on Jan 22 but is unlikely to be considered due to lack of preparation time.
Moeen will now have to wait until the India tour in February for a chance to play Test cricket for the first time since the 2019 Ashes. It leaves England relying on Jack Leach and Dom Bess, although they do have the option of promoting one of their reserves. Amar Virdi, Matt Parkinson and Mason Crane are travelling with the squad but have only one Test cap between them.
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Chris Woakes, who was forced to spend seven days in quarantine after being identified as a close contact of Moeen’s, ruled himself out of the first Test due to lack of preparation time.
"Poor Mo, he’s had it a little bit tough," Woakes said. "He had some symptoms, which I think he’s over now, which is good. But you wouldn’t wish this illness on anyone, so thankfully he’s recovered pretty well.
"It’s definitely been a tough week or so. A lot of the guys have been touching in with him. I was in contact with him all last week, particularly whilst I was in isolation, and I know the guys are playing a lot of PlayStation with him and talking to him through headsets.
"You try to keep busy as much as you can in isolation, but it’s tricky, isn’t it? I’ve certainly not gone through that before. I know the docs are checking in with him very frequently, a good few times a day to make sure he’s okay, and we also have a psychologist here who is in touch with the players."