Ashes chaos as Travis Head becomes first player from either side to test positive for Covid

However, since Head is the first player to test positive, it’s more likely that the virus has now spread to other players. However, it may be a few days before the full extent of the spread is known and whether the fourth test can still go ahead as planned.

As a precaution, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who was player of the match in the last Twenty20 World Cup final, and top-flight sluggers Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been called up to the Australia squad as backups.

England calls emergency coach

Adam Hollioake arrives in England for the fourth Test as an emergency coach but is only allowed to work with the players outside due to Covid rules, which were tightened after Head tested positive.

England have also unofficially placed Big Bash players on standby in case of a Covid outbreak in the squad.

Hollioake is expected to arrive on Sunday to help England prepare after Silverwood went into quarantine.

England’s bowling coach Jon Lewis and spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel tested positive earlier this week, reducing the number of coaches working with the team.

Representing Silverwood in Sydney, Graham Thorpe has reached out to his former Surrey team-mate for help.

Hollioake, who lives in Queensland, can only work with the players outside because he hasn’t gone through the same rigorous testing protocol as the existing coaches. He’s allowed to work outside with the players to minimize risk, which will only be an issue on Tuesday, the day before kick-off, when rain is forecast.

“He’s not just another pair of hands. He’s a pretty good philosophical guy who’s experienced some things in his life so he says this is cricket we play to win but can you get better? I know him really well and he’ll be a good guy if we can bring him in,” Thorpe said. “He can bring a bit of energy into the dressing room.”

Q&A: What would it take for the Ashes test to be canceled due to Covid?

By Jeremy Wilson

Will the test take place?

The fourth Ashes test has been thrown into doubt after Australia batsman Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19. Urgent tests were carried out on the rest of the squad and Australia delayed Melbourne’s trip while they awaited results from other players. Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have all been added to the Australia squad as potential cover for further cases. The game is scheduled to start on January 5th. England are already in Sydney and there is a great collective determination to play the game anyway, even if it has become a ‘dead gum’ after Australia took a 3-0 lead in the five series. The England team have already faced multiple Covid fears, with eight positives from carers and family members, but the squad have so far escaped infection.

What happens if the test is cancelled?

Aborting the test is an outcome that all sides are keen to avoid. The Ashes offers a valuable opportunity to earn points in the World Test Championship, running from 2021-2023, with each Test single match win being worth up to 12 points. England are already in Sydney so don’t want to be bothered about potentially having to return for the game at a later date. There could also be major financial implications of a cancellation for Cricket Australia in terms of gate receipts and potential broadcast revenue.

What about the fifth test?

The fifth test is due to start in Hobart on January 14, with people arriving in Tasmania subject to different Covid regulations than Sydney or Melbourne. Current Covid-19 rules for the island nation mean close contacts of Covid-19 cases would have to be isolated for seven days, but the government has listened pragmatically this week on how the rules actually apply to the two cricket teams and their support staff could apply.

“The Tasmanian Government remains fully committed to the fifth Ashes Test to be played in Hobart, which will be a historic event for the state,” said a government spokeswoman. “The Government continues to work with Cricket Australia and Public Health to ensure the match is played within the approved Covid safety plan and all Covid-related matters are managed effectively.”

Have other games been cancelled?

The Big Bash in Australia was struck by a spate of Covid-19 cases but Friday night’s game between Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers went ahead in the Thunder team despite four Covid-19 cases. Urgent talks ensued between public health officials and Cricket Australia and the match was to take place under level five protocols, with Thunder players kept separate from each other and from their opponents. The Melbourne Stars also reported 14 cases on Friday and their game against the Perth Scorchers on Sunday is significantly in doubt. Ashes chaos as Travis Head becomes first player from either side to test positive for Covid

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