Australian batsman Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19, casting a cloud over the fourth ash test to be held in Sydney.
Cricket Australia said Head was asymptomatic and would remain in Melbourne and isolate himself with his partner for seven days, in accordance with Victoria’s health requirements.
Players, their families, and support staff underwent PCR testing on a daily basis as part of routine testing procedures. No other colleague had tested positive.
“Unfortunately, Travis tested positive for Covid-19 today,” a spokesperson said Friday. “Fortunately, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone Men’s Ashes event 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.”
The rest of the Australian team underwent PCR and rapid antigen testing on Friday morning and was waiting for the results.
Head was scheduled to travel to Sydney for the test, scheduled to begin at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, but has been ruled out of the match.
Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been added to the Australian team as a cover.
Preparation for the fourth test has already been overshadowed by the rapidly increasing Covid cases in New South Wales, with some calling for it to be canceled for fear of future outbreaks between the parties.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan pushed this week for the test to stay in Melbourne.
“Do we want to risk taking control of two teams and passing on production teams and personnel?” Vaughan told Fox Sports. “Then you arrive at SCG and there is a case in the team on the first day and the test match is canceled.
“Surely Cricket Australia has to be proactive … there is a possibility that the positive Covid will spread from the sides.”
The English camp has had several family members and coaches testing positive during the tour. England head coach Chris Silverwood remains in Melbourne because he is isolated as a close contact.
Head has surpassed Australia’s batting averages in the first three tests of the series, having scored 248 runs with an average of 62, including 152 in the first test in Brisbane.
The Australian’s Peter Lalor said batter Usman Khawaja “looks ready to play” in Head’s absence. Khawaja has been in excellent Sheffield Shield form, scoring 460 runs at an average of 65.7 for Queensland this season, including two centuries.