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England’s dismal Ashes tour was plunged further into disarray on the second morning of the Boxing Day test when four members of their party – two members of support staff and two travelling family members – tested positive for Covid-19.
The team were forced to undergo emergency testing when one family member returned a positive test. While all players returned negative tests, three more positives emerged in the camp; two support staff and a further family member.
The playing group came to the ground late, with play delayed by 30 minutes. Two non-playing members of the squad, Stuart Broad and Craig Overton, remained at the team hotel as a precaution, but both tested negative.
The whole party will have a round of PCR tests tonight, on which it feels like the Test match – and perhaps the whole tour – hinges.
Cricket Australia said that “both teams will take extra precautions throughout play” to prevent spread of the virus.
England are 2-0 down and suffered a tough opening day, being bowled out for 185 before Australia reached stumps on 61 for one.
This was one of two Covid dramas on the second morning as Channel 7 revealed that a member of their broadcast staff had tested positive.
The remainder of the team were placed in isolation awaiting their results, with a new crew brought in.
Most England players have partners or children with them on tour around the Christmas period. Some have been with the group since the start of the tour, while others joined the group in Melbourne.
Their ability to travel was a major sticking point in planning for the tour.
The passage of the series around Christmas and New Year in Melbourne and Sydney always posed greater danger to the series, with Covid more widespread in those cities than in other parts of Australia.
England last week successfully argued for their living conditions to be relaxed by Cricket Australia.