Cricket Australia has defended its biosecurity protocols after Captain Pat Cummins was forced to withdraw from the second ash test in Adelaide on Thursday for being in close contact with a COVID-19 case.
Cummins was disfellowshipped from the day-night clash after eating at the same restaurant as the positive case on Wednesday night, and is forced to isolate himself for seven days.
Australian captain Pat Cummins is considered a close contact with a person who received a positive Covid-19 test last night and cannot play in the second Vodafone #Ash Check.
We assume that he will be available for the third test at the MCG in Melbourne. pic.twitter.com/o6JxIdL9pn
– Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) December 16, 2021
His absence from the game is a heavy blow to Australia’s hopes of extending their lead in the five-test series after winning the Brisbane opener.
Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said the 28-year-old didn’t do anything wrong and behaved according to protocols established by his medical team.
“We have protocols that adapt to the level of risk in each jurisdiction,” Hockley told reporters from the Adelaide Oval.
“We look at them every day. We are familiar with the protocols for SA (South Australia).
“We don’t want to lock the players up completely, we want to act proportionately, we are very aware of their psychological well-being.”
The only limitation for Australia’s players in Adelaide is that they can go public in small groups.
Discouraged to miss this test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance on the baggy green. He did the hard yards and is a seriously accomplished player. Super frustrating but COVID has thrown some curve balls for all of us over the past few years. Will cheer!
– Pat Cummins (@ patcummins30) December 16, 2021
Australia has been fortunate enough not to lose three first-choice players to the Pink Ball Test, with fast bowler Mitchell Starc and weirdo Nathan Lyon also dining at the same restaurant.
However, since they ate at a separate table outside, the authorities classified them as casual contacts and allowed them to play.
Australia’s players are all fully vaccinated and can mingle in public in South Australia, where active COVID cases are still rare.
Authorities reported 25 new cases on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases to 92.
FIT TO STAY
Cummins, the world’s best test bowler, led Australia to a nine-goal win over England in Ashes’ opener in Brisbane, his first match as captain.
With his retirement, Vice-Captain Steve Smith is regaining the captaincy for the first time since the Newlands ball rigging scandal in 2018.
Smith is Australia’s third captain in three Tests after Tim Paine resigned due to a “sexting” scandal leading up to the series.
Smith was suspended from international and most national cricket for 12 months and also banned from senior positions in the Australian line-up for two years after the Newlands scandal. The tour ban expired in March 2020.
“Steve has fully served his suspension and, according to his own statements, has grown as a person. He’s done a lot of good in the community, ”said Hockley.
“We did a really thorough process for the newest leadership roles and we felt it proved that it was… fit for a leadership position again.
“He’s the best person to fill in.”
Uncap pace veteran Michael Neser will make his test debut in the Pink Ball match instead of Cummins, who took seven wickets in Brisbane.
The home side have now lost two of their first fast-paced games, with Josh Hazlewood being replaced by Jhye Richardson in attack after suffering a sideline at the gabba.
Mid-tier batsman Travis Head, who scored a scintillating 152 at the gabba, becomes Australia’s vice-captain.
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