England take new steps to reduce Covid infections after outbreak in camp left future of Ashes series up in the air…but Cricket Australia remain confident tour will continue
- England have stepped up safety measures after a Covid outbreak in their camp
- Two England coaches and two family members tested positive on Monday
- The results caused day two of the third Test to be delayed by half an hour
- The squad tested negative, however, and organisers believe tour will continue
England have stepped up safety measures after a Covid outbreak within their camp left the future of the Ashes on a knife-edge.
The start of the second day of the third Test was delayed by half an hour when news broke of two England coaches and two family members recording positive lateral flow tests.
That led to the whole of the team returning from the team bus to their rooms at the Park Hyatt Hotel while they underwent further testing that eventually proved negative.
England (pictured: captain Joe Root (left) and Ben Stokes) have stepped up safety measures after a Covid outbreak within their camp
Two England coaches and two family members tested positive, delaying the start of day two
A third member of the management team was identified as a close contact and remained in isolation while non-playing squad members Stuart Broad and Craig Overton were left at the hotel as a precaution.
The whole squad underwent PCR tests on Monday night with the rest of the Ashes in jeopardy while England waited to see if they would be given the green light to continue.
‘We’ve stepped up the safety protocols around the dressing room, wearing masks and keeping distance whenever possible as well,’ said Jimmy Anderson who was outstanding in taking four for 33 as Australia were bowled out for 267.
‘So if there is any infection around the group hopefully it’s not spread.’ Uncertainty surrounded the start of the second day just as England were about to make the short journey to the MCG. ‘We got on the bus at the usual time at the hotel and then got told to get off it,’ said Anderson. ”Then all the lads went back to have lateral flows to make sure we were okay.
‘We were given the all-clear to come into the ground but it’s hard for me to say whether the tour can carry on or not. We’re all about to have PCR tests and we need all those to be clear. We’ll just have to wait and see what the results are from there.
‘We’ve not been told anything about the future of the tour up to now but as long as the group at the ground today are negative I can’t see why we can’t carry on.
England’s Jimmy Anderson said the tour would carry on as long as no players tested positive
Cricket Australia’s chief executive said organisers would ‘do everything’ for the tour to carry on
‘As far as I’m aware the whole playing group and the management at the ground today feel fine.’ England have abandoned two tours since the start of the pandemic – in Sri Lanka and South Africa, both in 2020 – but they will do everything they can to keep the Ashes show on the road, not least because of the huge broadcasting sums involved.
And Cricket Australia’s English chief executive Nick Hockley was bullish when he was asked about the threat to the series. ‘Both playing groups have been fantastic in observing the protocols,’ he said. ‘This is a sign of the times but this is what the precautions are for.
‘We are being extra vigilant as there are increasing cases in the community but I don’t think the tour is in doubt. We’ll do everything we can to make sure we can carry on.