HAMBANTOTA: Beginning a Test tour with hazmat suits, disinfection spray and isolation would knock many athletes for six, but England’s cricketers are grateful for the cautious welcome laid on by their Sri Lankan hosts, fast bowler James Anderson said on Monday.
The veteran England stalwart remarked he is excited by the challenge of tours to Sri Lanka and India even though it is expected to be tough for seamers on wickets which don’t normally give them much assistance.
The 38-year-old, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker, said a lengthy break had enabled him to work on his fitness and he was itching to play test cricket for the first time since August, when he reached the 600-wicket milestone against Pakistan.
“Obviously, these will be difficult tours for seam bowlers but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. It’s just a different challenge and the fact that we’ve not played any Test cricket for a few months now means we are all hungry to get out there,” Anderson told an online news conference from his hotel room.
The England squad is in their hotel in Hambantota, where they are isolating awaiting the coronavirus (Covid-19) testing on Tuesday before being allowed to start practising ahead of the first Test at Galle starting on Jan 14.
The two-match series in Sri Lanka is followed by four Tests in India in February and March. England are scheduled to play 17 Tests during 2021.
“Going on the last couple of tours of Sri Lanka, the wickets have really suited the spinners. But there are opportunities for the seamers to take wickets; there is reverse swing and the new ball does swing as well,” Anderson said. “Certainly, I’ve had some success at Galle, and I know some of the other seamers have as well, so it is certainly not doom and gloom for the seamers. We’ve got to be ready to put in a big shift.
“Our job might be shorter spells and less overs in the day but there will definitely be opportunities for us to take wickets,” Anderson added.
England arrived on the Indian Ocean island on Sunday to resume a tour cancelled in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and will be hoping to repeat their 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in 2018.
At the airport, Joe Root’s men were greeted by staff in hazmat suits who sprayed the team and their luggage with disinfectant before they were allowed into the terminal to take their second Covid-19 test in as many days.
The team had the small airport at Mattala all to themselves, as virtually no international flights are allowed into the country as it battles a new wave of infections.
After being sprayed and tested, the 23 England players went into a strict hotel quarantine in Hambantota.