England’s preparations for the fourth ash test fell victim to greater Covid chaos on Sunday, local net bowlers were pulled from their last training session after details of a positive case came out emerged.
The latest drama came just hours after the tourists’ plans to recruit former captain for a day Adam Hollioake to the coaching staff ran aground in Sydney.
Hollioake had been asked to boost the numbers in the absence of head coach Chris Silverwood, bowling boss Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness – all of whom are isolated. in Melbourne. But, after driving 500 miles from his home on the Gold Coast, he was identified as a close contact and also sent to quarantine.
This left Silverwood assistant Graham Thorpe leading a threadbare team behind the scenes in the team’s first SCG training session, alongside temporary consultants Ant Botha and James Foster, and it wasn’t long before that started to derail as well.
As usual, England hitters were put to the test by cricketers from nearby clubs – a widely used policy that allows for longer sessions without placing unreasonable workloads on test bowlers. But it soon became clear that there was a problem, with the net throwers asking to leave after about 40 minutes.
It later became clear that one of them had returned a positive test and, although it was suggested that his result bore the hallmarks of a past infection, continuing the session would have compromised even more. things.
Instead, England persevered without the cavalry, with Captain Joe Root at one point helping out with the ‘dog stick’ – a tool coaches use to artificially recreate high-speed bowling for a while. long periods. Elsewhere, other extended support staff, such as communications and medical staff, helped with the exercises.
A spokesperson for England said: “As soon as we learned of the positive test, the bowlers were withdrawn from support for our practice. The training stayed in place until we finished at 1:00 p.m. and this positive case did not cancel the training.
Another round of daily PCR tests was next on the agenda, the team’s seventh in eight days since seven positives in their larger travel group were recorded.
So far only one player on each side has tested positive – Australia’s Travis Head – but there remains a high level of alert that further spread inside either side remains.
Externally, cases in Sydney continue to skyrocket and a number of cases have also been identified around the Test, including match referee David Boon.
Glenn McGrath, who has organized a fundraiser and breast cancer awareness campaign during the New Years Test for the past 13 years in honor of his late wife Jane, has had to step down from the traditional launch event.
He hopes to attend day three, when SCG is decked out in rose for the McGrath Foundation, but is currently in isolation following a positive result.
Meanwhile, the Big Bash League continues to move forward despite a growing number of players being forced to retire – with quality players recruited from the gaming XIs to keep the show on the road.