England cricketers hit with extraordinary ban on shaking hands

England cricketers won't be shaking hands on their upcoming tour to Sri Lanka, captain Joe Root says.

The Yorkshire batsman, who addressed the issue of the coronavirus on Monday as the team prepared to depart for their two-Test tour, says instead the players will greet each other with fist bumps.

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The threat of illness is a sensitive issue for England, who were hit by a series of gastroenteritis and flu problems before and during the first Test on their recent tour of South Africa.

"After the illnesses that swept through the squad in South Africa, we are well aware of the importance of keeping contact to a minimum and we've been given some really sound and sensible advice from our medical team to help prevent spreading germs and bacteria," Root said.

Joe Root and Tim Paine shake hands during the 2019 Ashes. (Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images)

"We are not shaking hands with each other, using instead the well-established fist bump, and we are washing hands regularly and wiping down surfaces using the anti-bacterial wipes and gels we've been given in our immunity packs.

"There is no suggestion that the tour will be affected, but of course it is an evolving situation so we are in regular contact with the authorities and will proceed as advised, but at this stage we fully expect the tour to continue as planned.”

England ready for improved Sri Lanka

England won 3-0 in Sri Lanka two years ago but Root is anticipating a tougher challenge this time.

"The conditions will be a bit different with the time of year we are going this time," he said.

"The three games we played out there last time were all very close with less than 60 runs between the teams in the last two Tests.

"It was an exceptional performance last time and I think we can take a lot of confidence from that in terms of how to play out there.

"We respect how good a side they are in their own conditions and we'll find ourselves up against a stiff challenge.”