England cricketers to ditch handshake for 'fist pump' over virus

Joe Root (Getty Images)
Joe Root (Getty Images)

England cricket players have been told to "fist pump" instead of shaking hands with their Sri Lankan rivals in Tests that start next week, over coronavirus fears.

The England Cricket Board (ECB) said players in Sri Lanka for the two-Test series will limit public engagements and contacts with fans in a bid to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19.

"England players and staff are also being instructed to avoid shaking hands where a 'fist pump' or a personal greeting will suffice," said an ECB statement.

England skipper Joe Root said it was a disappointment to have to avoid fans' selfies and giving autographs, but the team had been told to limit unnecessary contact.

"It is against our nature as a team, we quite like to socialise and interact with fans and take selfies, autographs and stuff. But it means that we can't do that on this trip," Root told reporters.

The first Test starts on 19 March in Galle with the second match in Colombo from 27 March.

There was no customary hand shake between Root and Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne on Wednesday as they held their first formal ceremony for the series.

The first coronavirus case was reported in Sri Lanka last month when a 43-year-old Chinese woman tourist tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 4,300 people worldwide.

She made a full recovery and has returned home since. The first Sri Lankan case was announced this week.

Asked if England players will travel to India -- where more than 60 coronavirus cases are confirmed -- to participate in the lucrative Indian Premier League this month, coach Chris Silverwood said he did not see any issue with it.

"Obviously, it's a great competition. We have a T20 World Cup tournament coming up as well. So I think the experience that the guys will get out there is particularly valuable.

"From my point, I have got no problem with it," Silverwood said.

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