Travis Head ruled out of Sydney Ashes Test after testing positive for Covid

The Guardian
The Guardian
Australia’s Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes Test after testing positive for coronavirus.Australia’s Travis Head will miss the fourth Ashes Test after testing positive for coronavirus. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The Australia batter Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19, throwing a cloud over the fourth Ashes Test due to take place in Sydney.

Cricket Australia said Head was asymptomatic and would remain in Melbourne and isolate with his partner for seven days, in line with Victorian health requirements.

Players, their families and support staff were being PCR tested daily as part of routine testing procedures. No other teammates had returned a positive result.

Related: Silverwood to miss fourth Ashes Test after new Covid case in England party

“Unfortunately, Travis returned a positive Covid-19 result earlier today,” a spokesperson said on Friday. “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 rest of the Australian squad took PCR and rapid antigen tests on Friday morning and were awaiting results.

Head was due to travel to Sydney for the Test, scheduled to begin at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 5 January, but he has been ruled out of the match.

Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been added to the Australian squad as cover.

The buildup to the fourth Test has already been overshadowed by rapidly rising Covid cases in New South Wales, with some calling for it to be cancelled out of fear of future outbreaks among the sides.

The former England captain Michael Vaughan this week pushed for the Test to stay in Melbourne.

“Do we want to risk taking two teams over and broadcast crews and production staff?” Vaughan told Fox Sports. “Then you get to the SCG and there’s one case in the team on day one and the Test match is off.

“Surely Cricket Australia have to be proactive ... there’s the possibility that the Covid positive could spread around the side.”

The English camp has had several family members and coaches test positive during the tour. England’s head coach, Chris Silverwood, is remaining in Melbourne because he is isolating as a close contact.

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Head has topped Australia’s batting averages in the series’ first three Tests, having scored 248 runs at an average of 62, including a starring 152 in Brisbane’s first Test.

The Australian’s Peter Lalor said batter Usman Khawaja “looks set to play” in Head’s absence. Khawaja has been in superb Sheffield Shield form, scoring 460 runs at an average of 65.7 for Queensland this season, including two centuries.

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