James Anderson is concerned England could be underprepared for their Test series against Sri Lanka as the challenges of touring during a pandemic continue to hit home.
The travelling squad have had an unusual start to their trip, being welcomed on arrival in Sri Lanka by medical staff in full body protective equipment and then hosed down with disinfectant spray before being admitted to the airport terminal.
Since then it has been room-bound quarantine at the Shangri La hotel in Hambantota.
Restrictions will continue for Moeen Ali, who has tested positive for COVID-19, and Chris Woakes, who has been identified as a close contact.
But the quarantine will be lifted for the rest of the group if they pass a second round of COVID-19 testing on Tuesday morning.
The first Test in Galle begins just nine days later, with net sessions and intra-squad games the only meaningful cricket possible.
It’s a far cry from the planned itinerary last March, where the team had one three-day warm-up match and a first-class outing against a Board President’s XI to get them tuned up for the local conditions.
Anderson spent much of December bowling indoors in a specially-prepared marquee in Loughborough in the UK as temperatures plummeted outside, a handy resource but one that still falls short of the real thing.
“It wasn’t ideal but the best of a bad situation. It was better than bowling with snowballs in my back garden,” said England’s record wicket-taker.
“It’s been a really useful facility actually over the last six weeks and I’ve been going down regularly to bowl. But the whole situation is not ideal for us, we have not got a long preparation for this series and don’t have a lot of practice for the first Test.
“We just have to make the best of it and hit the ground running if and when we get out of quarantine. It’s not going to be ideal and we know Sri Lanka have been playing Test cricket which maybe gives them a slight advantage.”
Sri Lanka are currently involved in red ball action in South Africa, but their current Test in Johannesburg is just their fourth since the start of 2020, while England have played nine in that time frame, but last donned the whites in August.
That’s when Anderson became the first seam bowler in history to take 600 Test wickets, an achievement which seems sure to see him one day become ‘Sir Jimmy’.
A media report over the weekend suggested a knighthood was considered for the Queen’s New Year Honours but withheld due to concerns over sledging in Australia during next winter’s Ashes.
“I thought it was a pretty unusual story. I’ve not heard anything like that,” he said in response.
“I’m sure it won’t stop them sledging me anyway, to be honest. I pretty much get a big barrage when I go there anyway so I’m looking forward to that with or without that.”