Surrey spinner Amar Virdi says the environment in the England camp is “a lot calmer” after the entire squad received negative Covid-19 tests.
The 21-year-old is part of the 30-man training group preparing in Southampton for the upcoming West Indies series alongside fellow spinners Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, Dom Bess and Matt Parkinson. A total of 702 COVID-19 tests were carried out between 3 June and 23 June on players, support staff, match officials, ECB staff, venue staff and hotel staff working at the bio-secure venues of Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl. All 702 tests were negative.
“When we arrived, we first had to drop off our luggage at the front. It was all sanitised and sent to our room,” said Virdi in a press conference on Friday. “We had to go through a heat scanner, get our temperature checked and then we all had Covid-19 tests and then we were isolating until the results came back. There’s been some very good measures taking place regarding safety and wearing masks indoors. There’s been a lot of useful information given to us.
“In terms of the setup, it is very different. When you’re having food at lunch it’s just two people on a table. It’s almost like you’re on a dinner date. The rest is pretty chilled out to be honest. The nets are pretty similar, we’re just trying to keep the social distancing but with everyone not testing positive, I think the environment’s a lot calmer.”
The off-spinner – who is yet to make his Test debut – has been part of the England Lions set-up for three years, having first been picked for a tour of Australia in 2017 with only three first-class matches under his belt. He was also part of the Surrey side that won the County Championship in 2018 and has taken 69 wickets in 23 first-class matches.
“I’ve been in the Lions programme for the last three years. In the last year there’s been a big difference. When you’re playing Lions now you feel a lot closer to the main side. So being picked into that 55 is massive for me because I want to be playing Test cricket. And then getting picked in that 30-man squad, it’s great being around the boys and getting a taste of what it’s like at this level.
“You don’t see everybody at the same time, but I have introduced myself to everyone now. There’s been a warm welcome.”