Moeen Ali coronavirus quarantine extended after mild symptoms

Rory Dollard, PA Cricket Correspondent
·3-min read

Moeen Ali will not leave his coronavirus quarantine on Wednesday as previously planned and is now highly unlikely to play any part in England’s Test series against Sri Lanka.

Moeen tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in the country and was instructed to isolate for 10 days, which would have allowed him to rejoin the squad on the eve of Thursday’s series opener in Galle.

But the all-rounder has experienced mild symptoms and fatigue and an abundance of caution from the Sri Lankan government, who are overseeing all guidance on the virus, means he now faces another two or three days of isolation.

The England and Wales Cricket Board are understood to be sympathetic to the decision and now expect Moeen to be allowed out of his private accommodation towards the weekend.

England's Chris Woakes on duty in Galle.
England’s Chris Woakes on duty in Galle (ECB)

Given the tight time-frame, the 33-year-old spinner is effectively ruled out of the second Test starting on January 22 as a result, with too little time to get him match sharp.

Instead, the plan is for him to begin working back towards fighting fitness in time to play a role in the the subsequent tour of India.

Chris Woakes spent a week confined to quarters after being identified as a close contact of Moeen – the pair having shared transport to the team hotel – and feels for his team-mate.

“Poor bloke, he’s obviously had it a little bit tough having been in isolation pretty much since we got here,” said Woakes.

“Everyone’s checking in with him, making sure he’s okay, but I can only imagine what he’s going through. I did seven days and he’s ended up doing a lot more than that. He had some symptoms which I think he’s over now, which is good, but you don’t wish this illness on anyone.

“Thankfully he’s recovering pretty well. I think he’ll be excited to get out and be amongst the group again.”

As well as regular check-ins from medical staff and the availability of psychologist Dr James Bickley, who is travelling with the side, Moeen has had his team-mates to rely on during a challenging time.

“We’re trying to get around him,” said Woakes.

“I was in contact with him all last week when I was in isolation – we were both talking about what we were up to.

  • 1st Test: Jan 14-18 (Galle)

  • 2nd Test: Jan 22-26 (Galle)

“I know the guys have played a lot of PlayStation with him as well and talking to him through the headsets.

“It’s tricky in these sort of times when you’re having to lock yourself away in a room, I’ve certainly not gone through that before so it is unprecedented times.”

On a personal level, Woakes’ car-share with Moeen has probably cost him any realistic chance of appearing in the first Test in Sri Lanka this week.

His all-round ability might have made him an attractive option in the absence of the rested Ben Stokes, but he is now having to play catch-up in terms of net practice and looks a likelier candidate for the second match.

Chris Woakes' quarantine period leaves Sam Curran in pole position for the all-rounder slot.
Chris Woakes’ quarantine period leaves Sam Curran in pole position for the all-rounder slot (Glyn Kirk/PA)

“I’m certainly up against it in terms of time. It would be a potential injury risk,” he said.

“I only had my first bowl on Monday and obviously the guys have been bowling for nearly a week before I have. It puts me back a little bit and the chances of me playing are probably quite slim.

“I was turning up on tour hoping to push for a place in the starting XI. I was certainly hoping to force my way in and with no Stokesy here, it emphasises that all-rounder role which myself or Sam Curran could fill to balance the team a bit.

“Whether this week comes too soon for me, that’s probably likely, but going forward I can hopefully force my way.”