Play will resume on the third day after a clear set of results among the playing groups but questions remain
Cricket Australia is breathing a huge sigh of relief after all players from Australia and England returned negative tests to COVID-19.
The outcome of those tests left CA sweating on not only the remainder of the Boxing Day Test, but the rest of the Ashes series as a whole.
But they were given the good news on Tuesday morning, allowing day three to go ahead as scheduled at the MCG.
“Players from the Australian and England teams all had PCR Covid-19 tests after play yesterday and all results have come back negative,” Cricket Australia said in a statement. “The families of both sets of players also had PCR tests yesterday and all returned a negative test.
“The England team’s support staff and their family members who tested positive after PCR tests yesterday are in isolation.”
Questions still do remain over the rest of the series, and the flow-on effect the scare could have for scheduling. There is some thought Victoria could be a safe haven for the rest of the series, where close contacts of cases must only isolate until they return a negative test result.
NSW continues to average beyond 6000 cases per day, and at this stage close contact rules there require people to isolate for a week. There is every chance that could change in coming days, while the definition of a close contact is not as tight in NSW.
The use of a hotel booked out exclusively for the two camps is aiding CA’s confidence that the fourth Test can go ahead in Sydney.
Tasmania also have strict rules for close contacts, similar to those in South Australia where Pat Cummins was wiped out of the second Test for dining near a confirmed case.
CA do however remain adamant that they want to follow the schedule as planned, and can work closely with governments to deliver it.
Their record through the pandemic is also worth noting. Australia have so far managed to get almost all matches played on home soil since the start of Covid-19 through its protocols.
Only one Test has been postponed – against Afghanistan last summer. A one-day series against New Zealand was also called off when COVID-19 first surfaced mid-series.
Otherwise the BBL, WBBL and women’s internationals have got through unscathed, with crowds able to attend all major events bar the first closed-door sports event in Australia with an ODI against New Zealand in March 2020.
“We’ve seen through the last 18 months [we can get games on],” CA boss Nick Hockley said. “I have to say I am so proud of the work of everybody involved, in particular thank the players but also the governments and health departments across the country. We’re having to learn to live with this.”