The decision was announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board and Sri Lanka counterparts today while Joe Root’s players were out in the middle playing the second day of their final warm-up fixture in Colombo.
The two-match series, part of the World Test Championship, was due to start in Galle next Thursday.
But with England supporters due to begin travelling to the island in the coming days, and apparent unease among the squad about the situation, a postponement became inevitable.
An ECB spokesperson said: “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 UK and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England. At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing 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’’.