England Test skipper Joe Root admitted there was an “element of relief” after their Test series in Sri Lanka had to be called off, amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus Covid-19.
“There was an element of relief. The right decision has been made,” Root told PA before the squad departed from Sri Lanka. “You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere thinking about people back home. Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones that’s put a lot of guys at ease.”
Almost all mainstream cricketing events, barring the ongoing Pakistan Super League, have either been cancelled or postponed.
"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England."https://t.co/c2odujESgU
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 13, 2020
The England squad was in touch with the British High Commission in Colombo throughout their stay, where they managed to play a couple of practice games ahead of the two-Test series.
“There were a number of different scenarios we could have found ourselves in that were pretty scary to be honest,” said Root.
“You think how things might have gone – being in isolation here, disconnected from the team, without the security we would usually have around us at the ground or the hotel. If one of the lads was to get it in these conditions, or a member of the public travelling, it could be quite a scary experience.
No public engagements
No selfies, autographs
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) March 11, 2020
“Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket. Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you’re thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that’s hard when you’re a long way away.
“It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys.”
With no clarity as to when the games would be rescheduled, Root said that the squad will take things as they come. He did, however, admit it would be “very strange” if the series was to be played behind closed doors.
“We don’t know when we’ll play again,” he said. “I suppose you can’t have mass gatherings so there won’t be many training camps. I’m sure over the coming weeks we’ll prepare and do everything we can to be as ready as possible, but until we know more, it’s just a case of common sense. Look after yourself, condition well and be ready to start.”