ENGLAND’S tour of Sri Lanka has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the travelling squad set to return home as soon as possible.

Joe Root’s side were in the field facing a President’s XI in a warm-up match in Colombo, when the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the news.

That game has now been abandoned and the two-match Test series has been formally written off.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the U.K and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England.

“At this time, the physical and mental well-being of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation. “We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important Test series.”

The decision came in good enough time to prevent the vast majority of fans travelling to Sri Lanka boarding their flights.

Squad members had taken note of the growing disruption to the global sporting calendar and some were understood be unsettled by the idea of persevering with games in Galle and Colombo over the coming weeks.

As a group, they were willing to observe the official guidance and attempt to focus on cricket, but it is thought the Professional Cricketers’ Association adopted a sterner position on their behalf.

In a statement to PA, the PCA were circumspect, stating only that: “The PCA is part of a health advisory group that has been formed by the ECB, which includes medical experts on how to deal with the coronavirus.”