The third Test in Melbourne continued despite cases in the wider English squad
The New South Wales Government has stated that it will do its utmost to ensure that SCG’s Ashes Test continues, guaranteeing that players will not be sidelined for a week as close contacts.
Cricket Australia was able to breathe a sigh of relief on Tuesday as all players from Australia and England returned negative PCR tests to COVID-19.
It has, at least in the short term, paid off fears of a major outbreak in England’s camp after four non-playing members of their tournament club were tested positive for the virus.
But bigger questions still await Cricket Australia. There had been fears that NSW’s rules of close contact would force players into a week of isolation if they were in the vicinity of an infected person in a state that averages more than 6,000 cases a day.
In fact, it had the potential to immediately kill the test if several players were close contacts and were asked to isolate themselves for a week according to previous rules.
But NSW Health’s claims on Tuesday mean players would be treated the same way they stayed in Melbourne, and could play on if they were close contacts.
Likewise, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard promised that the test would be able to continue with minimal problems if a player or additional support staff got the virus.
“The SCG test is sacred, an important date in the beginning of the third year of our lives with Covid-19,” Hazzard said. “I want to assure the cricket-loving public that all players exposed to a known case of Covid-19 will only be asked to test and isolate until a negative result was received.
“If there are any issues within the teams, their support staff or families, we will work with the people involved to ensure that they are safe and that there is as little disruption to others as possible.”
Cricket Australia are also confident that they will be able to work with the Tasmanian government to ensure that the fifth Test in Hobart goes ahead.
Tasmania has had minimal cases of the virus, and the threat of players and TV stations becoming close contacts in Sydney could be a problem.
But Tasmania’s willingness to host their first Ashes Test is key after the state government helped fund a bid with big money to secure the match.
Meanwhile, the incubation period for Covid-19 means officials still have a nervous wait ahead in the coming days to ensure the virus does not spread further in England’s camp.
No players had reported any symptoms before their PCR test on Monday night and the game could start uninterrupted on day three in Melbourne.
“Players from the Australian and English teams had all PCR Covid-19 tests after games yesterday and all results have come back negative,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.
“The families of both sets of players also had PCR tests yesterday and all returned a negative test. The English team’s support staff and their family members who tested positive after PCR tests yesterday are in isolation.”
Australia have so far managed to get almost every match played at home since the start of Covid-19 through its protocols.
Only one test has been postponed – against Afghanistan last summer. A one-day series against New Zealand was also canceled when the pandemic first appeared in the middle of the series.
Otherwise, the BBL, WBBL and women’s international matches have survived unscathed, with the public able to attend all major events, but the first closed sporting event in Australia with an ODI against New Zealand in March 2020.
“We’ve seen through the last 18 months [we can get games on]”said CA boss Nick Hockley.” I must say I am so proud of the work of everyone involved, especially thanks to the players, but also the governments and health departments across the country. We have to learn to live with this. “