Australia’s Travis Head tests positive as Covid-19 closes in on cricket in Ashes and Big Bash

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Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19 (Getty Images)
Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19 (Getty Images)

The Ashes and Australian cricket more widely has been affected by rising Covid-19 cases across the country as Test batter Travis Head and a raft of Big Bash players recorded positive tests.

Covid is now in both Ashes camps, with England recording seven cases, as well as the officials after Match Referee David Boon tested positive on Thursday.

England travelled to Sydney on a private flight on Friday, having recorded no further positives in their latest round of tests. Australia were due to fly later, but the teams are sharing a hotel (while staying in separate areas).

They are without four members of their coaching team; Head Coach Chris Silverwood is a close contact after a member of his family tested positive, while spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel, fast bowling coach Jon Lewis and S&C Darren Veness have the virus. They remain in Melbourne with their families.

It has been a relief that no further positive tests have been recorded, but the players were tested again on arrival in Sydney and will have another round on January 2.

The developing and uncertain nature of the situation means that some players’ families have left Australia, or will leave in the coming days. England are still due to hold a get-together for New Year’s Eve in Sydney on Friday night, but many players are expected to swerve it.

Sydney recorded 21,151 cases on Friday, almost double Thursday’s count.

Australia have already secured the Ashes, with two Tests to go. The Fourth is at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5 and the Fifth is scheduled to take place in Hobart from the 14th. Nothing seems terribly certain at this stage.

Covid entered Australia’s camp on Friday, with Head’s positive test. He scored an excellent hundred in the series opener at Brisbane, and is Australia’s leading run-scorer for the series. He has been ruled out of the Sydney Test and is isolating with his partner in Melbourne. He remains asymptomatic.

As if braced for more positive tests, Australia called up three players – batter Nic Maddinson, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh and keeper Josh Inglis – taking their squad to 18, the same size as England’s. All members of the party have been tested again today, with Marcus Harris reported to have remained behind in Melbourne while he awaited a PCR result.

“As part of our testing procedures, we are PCR testing players, their families and our support staff daily,” said a Cricket Australia statement. “Unfortunately, Travis returned a positive Covid-19 result earlier today. Thankfully, 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 done throughout this series and we will continue to work with and support the players, their families and staff from both teams.”

The Big Bash League has been badly affected, too. Melbourne Stars’ game against Perth Scorchers on Thursday was called off due to a positive test in the Stars camp, and that outbreak swelled to 15 on Friday, including seven players.

Sydney Thunder recorded four positive cases ahead of their New Year’s Eve meeting with Adelaide Strikers, which was cleared to go ahead with stricter Covid protocols in place. The positives at Thunder was reported to include the former England batter Alex Hales.

Melbourne Renegades’ James Pattinson did not fly with his team to Coffs Harbour to face Sydney Sixers as he is awaiting a test result.

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