Phil Whitticase, who was the match referee officiating in the recently-concluded 3-match T20I series between England and Sri Lanka, has unfortunately returned a positive test for COVID-19.
He is reported to be asymptomatic and has been placed in 10-day isolation. The 56-year-old tested positive after a PCR test that was administered on Friday.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is now seeking emergency replacements for the ODI series between the two sides to commence on Tuesday in Chester-le-Street not just for Whitticase but for four other officials as well; a total of seven match officials and anti-corruption personnel at the Ageas Bowl have been deemed close contacts, including five who were due to officiate in the ODIs. They all have been placed in quarantine for 10 days, until July 7.
“No members of the two teams were impacted. Alternative arrangements will be put in place to ensure Tuesday’s ODI goes ahead as planned,” the ECB said in a statement.
Avishka Fernando ruled out of England ODIs due to a quadriceps tear
Avishka Fernando, who missed the third T20I against England in Southampton, has been ruled out of the ODIs against England as well with a grade two tear to his quadriceps. He had picked up the injury while fielding in the second T20I in Cardiff and consequently missed out on the third game at The Rose Bowl.
This must be heart-wrenching for the right-hander as earlier this year, too, he had missed out on limited-overs tours to West Indies and Bangladesh because of failing in fitness tests.
Sri Lanka, who received a 3-0 drubbing in the T20I series by England, are placed at the bottom of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League points table with just one win in 6 matches; they are coming off a 2-1 loss in Bangladesh. England, meanwhile, are second on the table with 4 wins in 9 games; they, too, are coming off a 2-1 loss to India.