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Sri Lanka face 'nerve-wracking' wait for Covid test results after returning from England

Mickey Arthur reveals mixing with England after Bristol ODI with India series due to start in a week

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Sri Lanka played their last game against England in Bristol on Sunday  •  Getty Images

Sri Lanka played their last game against England in Bristol on Sunday  •  Getty Images

Sri Lanka's ODI squad face an anxious wait for the results of their PCR tests on returning home, following a Covid-19 outbreak in the England squad after the final match of their tour in Bristol on Sunday.
England's entire ODI squad and backroom staff were forced into self-isolation after a number of positive Covid tests, with an entirely new 18-man squad called up ahead of the first ODI against Pakistan on Thursday. Sri Lanka's upcoming ODI series against India starts next week, on July 13, and while they returned negative lateral-flow tests on their arrival in Colombo, they were awaiting the outcome of their PCR tests on Tuesday night.
"We had to divert to India because we lost fuel," Mickey Arthur, Sri Lanka's head coach, told talkSPORT's Following On. podcast. "When I landed in India, I switched my phone on and I had a couple of messages from Wayne Bentley [England's operations manager] who updated on the situation and that was a really nerve-wracking time for all of us.
"We arrived here [in Colombo] and we haven't been allowed to enter our rooms without the result of a rapid antigen test, which luckily, I think most of our squad have got through. We've done another PCR where the results come out tomorrow [Wednesday]. At the end of that ODI there was a fair amount of banter between the two teams - quite a lot of chat and quite a lot of talk - so it did bring about some anxious times.
"I feel so desperately sorry for that England team because they're a hell of a good cricket side at the moment. They were on a roll, they were playing really well and they just looked the part. For them to have to go and self-isolate now is really, really tough. And the cheeky part of me said, 'jeez, why couldn't we play against the 18 that have just come in?'"
Arthur also hinted that Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka could face long-term suspensions from international cricket pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, and admitted that the tour to England - in which Sri Lanka lost five games and had one no-result - was "one of the toughest" he had been on as a head coach.
"I know there is a disciplinary panel that's been set up and I think those players will get a severe penalty," he said. "What that is, I don't know. I've seen one year being mooted and it almost kind of reminds me of Sandpapergate, where you crash to the lowest point and then try to build it up again. I'm not sure what's going to happen with that [but] we're obviously keen to get [numbers] one, four and five back as soon as possible with a T20 World Cup in mind.
"[It was] one of the toughest tours I've been on in my 12 years as an international coach, just in the sense that there was so much going on around the tour. There was obviously still the stand-off between the players and the board around contracts which hasn't been resolved. Not wanting to make an excuse around that, there was a lot of instability there.
"We took a very, very young squad that we wanted to build with for the next couple of years but the three batsmen central to that unfortunately went walkabout in Durham and we lost our number one, four and five. That didn't help either. It was really tough.
"The positives I'd take out of it, I thought Kusal Janith [Perera] led the team very, very well in very trying times and I thought our quick bowling attack was fairly good which was great. We know we've got the spinners but to see some of our quicks come through was really, really exciting."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98