COVID UPDATE: England team in midst of virus scare, Ashes Day 2 delayed by 30 minutes

by IANS |

Melbourne, Dec 27 (IANS) The England cricket team spent a few anxious hours ahead of Day 2 of the third Ashes Test at the MCG with two of the tourists' support staff and two of their family members testing positive for COVID-19, which forced a half-hour delay to the start of the game on Monday morning.

However, the Joe Root-led England soon shrugged off the scare, reducing Australia to 181/6 midway through the second session of the Boxing Day Test, with Jimmy Anderson grabbing two more wickets -- Marchus Harris (76) and Steve Smith (16) -- to add to the wicket of David Warner he took in the last session of Day 1.

Ollie Robinson was the other successful bowler, grabbing the wickets of Nathan Lyon (10) and Travis Head (27), as the tourists worked tirelessly on Monday to restrict Australia to a sub-200 total.

Earlier, at the start of the day, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed the team had received the all-clear to depart for the ground, with play getting delayed by half-an-hour due to the COVID scare.

An hour before play was to commence, the ECB issued a statement confirming players were waiting on a negative result after a case proximal to the team, reported sen.com.au.

"The England team and management are currently at the team hotel awaiting results of RFT COVID tests following a positive test in the team's family group," the release read before the team was given the green signal to proceed to the ground.

Cricket Australia (CA) tweeted that it had been informed that there had been a number of COVID-positive cases in the England support staff and their families.

"Cricket Australia has been informed that two members of the England Cricket Team's support staff and two of their family members have returned a positive COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test. The affected individuals are currently isolating," CA tweeted.

"The entire playing group and all other support staff have undertaken Rapid Antigen Tests this morning and all have tested negative. The England team will also have PCR tests today, and both teams will take extra precautions throughout play. Both playing squads remain unchanged.

"There is currently no further impact on fans or other parts of the venue. Cricket Australia and the MCC will continue to monitor the situation and follow the endorsed Victorian Government COVID-Safe Event Plan," CA added.

According to sen.com.au, Ashes broadcaster, Channel Seven, has also been impacted, "with the commentary team for the second day overhauled with several callers ruled out as close contacts".

"The Seven Network confirms it is responding after a member of staff working on the Ashes broadcast at the MCG tested positive to COVID-19 on Sunday night," a statement from Seven head of sport Lewis Martin said.

"The staff member was asymptomatic at time of testing and has been in self-isolation since the moment the positive result was returned."

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