Niroshan Dickwella was one of three players sent home

Credit: PA

Three Sri Lankan cricketers, including vice-captain Kusal Mendis, have been sent home from their tour of England after breaching team bio-security rules by leaving the team hotel in Durham ahead of the start of the one-day international series against England on Tuesday.

Social-media footage emerged of the players defying bio-security rules by being out late in Durham on Sunday night, which prompted a Sri Lanka Cricket investigation. Mendis, wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka have now all been sent home.

Bio-security measures in Durham have been ramped up with the area considered a Covid-19 hotspot with infections soaring. The England squad have been confined to their hotel in the build-up to the match with England mindful of the need to mitigate the risks of any players contracting Covid-19.

The absences of the trio are a major blow to Sri Lanka, with all three set to play in the ODI series against England. Even with the trio, Sri Lanka were roundly defeated 3-0 in the Twenty20 series in England. Sri Lanka are already at major risk of missing out on automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup, after winning only one of their first six matches in the ODI Super League which doubles as qualification for the tournament.

"Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to inform that vice-captain Kusal Mendis, wicket-keeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella and batsman Danushka Gunathilaka will be flown back to Sri Lanka with immediate effect," a Sri Lanka Cricket statement said.

"This decision was taken following a preliminary inquiry conducted over a video posted on social media in which the said three players can be seen outside their designated hotel.

"The three players will be suspended, from all forms of cricket, until the completion of the inquiry."