Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been called up as cover
Australian batsman Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19, as the Australian team delayed its flight from Melbourne to Sydney and called in replacements for the fourth test at SCG, with questions about whether the series will be able to continue with both. squads that now have cases.
Cricket Australia confirmed on Friday morning that Head had tested positive on a routine PCR test and became the first player from either team to be affected. He is asymptomatic and will remain in Melbourne with his partner to isolate himself for seven days under the guidelines of the Victorian government.
Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been called up to the Australia team as cover in case there are more positive cases within the playing group. Australia already have Usman Khawaja with the team and he would likely be Head’s replacement in the middle order.
A Cricket Australia spokesperson confirmed that the rest of the Australia team, families and support staff have undergone PCR and rapid testing on Friday morning and are still expected to travel to Sydney on a charter today.
“As part of our testing procedures, we are PCR test players, their families, and our support staff every day,” the spokesperson said. “Unfortunately, Travis tested positive for Covid-19 earlier today. Fortunately, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone Men’s Ashes test in Hobart.”
“We are grateful to our exceptional medical staff for all the work they have put in throughout this series and we will continue to work with and support the players, their families and the staff of both teams.”
England will travel separately to Sydney, after CA divided the teams into separate charters to try to mitigate risks, but without coach Chris Silverwood after one of his family members was confirmed to have tested positive for Covid- 19. Silverwood, like Head, will miss the Sydney event and remain isolated in Melbourne. That brought the total number of positive cases on the England tour to seven. However, the entire England gaming group has reportedly tested negative PCR tests in the last 24 hours.
The first case of Covid to hit the Ashes appeared on the second morning of the MCG Test, although the game was able to continue after the rest of the England team was cleared through rapid tests. Since then, daily PCR tests have been performed.
New South Wales had more than 21,000 cases on Friday. The definition of close contact has been lowered after a meeting of the state and federal government on Thursday, and the period of isolation was shortened in most states.
Alex Malcolm is associate editor of ESPNcricinfo