Australia are hopeful of no further disruptions ahead of the fourth Ashes Test after their squad returned a full round of negative Covid-19 tests.
Doubts had descended on the New Year fixture in Sydney when batter Travis Head was found to be carrying the virus prior to the team’s departure from Melbourne on Friday.
He was the first player from either side to test positive in what has become a daily screening schedule, but seven members of England’s wider touring party, as well as match referee David Boon, had contracted the virus in recent days.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 1, 2022
Australia had been braced for a wider spread, having called up three cover players, but their entire squad and the support staff came back negative on New Year’s Day. One test, for a family member, remains unreported and both teams have taken another round of PCRs, their sixth since the first case was identified in the England camp.
The home side’s replacements – Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson, Josh Inglis – will link up with their teammates alongside opener Marcus Harris, who did not travel with the main squad as a precaution having dined with Head prior to his test result.
Usman Khawaja is the man most likely to benefit from Head’s misfortune having performed 12th man duties for the last three matches and is due to make his first Test appearance since the famous Headingley Test of 2019.
“It’s one of those things where even if I do play, it’ll only be for one game, I understand that situation,” said the 35-year-old.
“Hopefully I can go out there and score a hundred and do well for the team in the absence of ‘Heady’. I’m just putting my head down, making sure I’m working really hard and doing the best I can for Australia whenever I get the opportunity.”