England were given the all clear to resume on day two of the Boxing Day Ashes Test after a Covid-19 scare briefly plunged the game into doubt.
Just over an hour before the scheduled start time of 10.30am, a team spokesperson confirmed that the squad and management were being kept in their Melbourne hotel following a positive test among the wider family group.
A hasty round of rapid tests were administered as the third match of the series threatened to be derailed after just one day, but an update followed indicating that the playing XI had received a green light to make their belated journey to the ground. Play was due to start with a half-hour delay.
It is understood that two players who are not in the side this week and two members of coaching staff have stayed away as a precaution, due to being close contacts.
With the virus having made its way into the wider travelling party – which included a large number of family members who had made the trip for the Christmas period – it seems likely that further cases will emerge.
The series has been able to go ahead as planned so far despite rising case numbers in Australia, which has adopted a more stringent approach to restrictions than the UK throughout the pandemic.
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.— England Cricket (@englandcricket) December 26, 2021
We will provide more information in due course.
Home captain Pat Cummins was ruled out of the second Test after being ‘pinged’ when it emerged he had sat next to a Covid carrier during a restaurant meal on the eve of the game.
A short statement read: “The England team have been given the all clear to travel to the MCG and we are about to set off from the team hotel.”
That followed a previous, far less certain, message which said: “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. We will provide more information in due course.”