Coronavirus: England Test series in Sri Lanka called-off

Joe Root
Captain Joe Root leads the players off after the warm-up tour match was abandoned

England's Test series against Sri Lanka has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

All players and staff will return to the UK as soon as possible following the the decision which has been taken in "unprecedented times".

"The physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount," said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in a statement.

The two-Test series was due to begin in Galle on Thursday, 19 March.

"We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation," the statement added.

"We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the near future to fulfil this important Test series."

England's four-day warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Cricket Board President's XI side was abandoned on Friday, with the second's day's play already under way.

All-rounder Ben Stokes had withdrawn from the squad to undergo abdominal tests - but team management said it was not linked to any coronavirus concerns.

Play was halted with the President's XI 150-3 in reply to England's 463 all out.

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The decision comes on a day of widespread sporting postponements worldwide.

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The ECB's decision comes after it was announced the start of the 2020 Indian Premier League season has been delayed from 29 March to 15 April.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said the move was a "precautionary measure" - while India's one-day international series against South Africa was also postponed on Friday, while the Pakistan Super League was shortened.

Scotland's one-day international series against the United States and the United Arab Emirates, scheduled to take place in Florida in April, has also been postponed.

Meanwhile, Australia will play their three one-day internationals against New Zealand behind closed doors.