Missed text message that saved Australia from Ashes disaster

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·Sports Editor
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  • Mitchell Starc
    Mitchell Starc
    Australian cricketer
  • Nathan Lyon
    Nathan Lyon
    Australian cricketer
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, pictured here in action in the second Ashes Test.
Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon almost missed the second Ashes Test. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc has revealed just how close Australia came to having to play a completely new bowling attack in the second Ashes Test after Pat Cummins' Covid brush.

Cummins is missing the day-night Test in Adelaide after being deemed a close contact of a Covid-19 case.

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The Australian captain was inside the Little Hunter steakhouse in central Adelaide on Wednesday night when he greeted and even shook hands with the Covid-positive person.

It later emerged that fellow Test bowlers Starc and Nathan Lyon were with Cummins at the restaurant, but sat outside and were therefore only deemed casual contacts.

Speaking after the third day's play on Saturday night at the Adelaide Oval, Starc revealed he and Lyon didn't sit inside with Cummins for one key reason.

The fast bowler revealed he and Lyon texted Cummins about where they would sit, but didn't receive a reply.

"It was almost a bit of a piss-take because Pat didn't reply to our message," Starc said.

"We thought we would sit away from him and sit outside. So it has been a lucky one."

Due to Cummins' proximity inside the restaurant, the skipper was deemed by South Australian Health as a close contact of the confirmed case.

That Thursday morning ruling meant Cummins was withdrawn from playing in Adelaide and forced into seven days isolation.

Starc said he and Lyon were unaware of the Covid drama until they returned to the team hotel.

They spent Wednesday night uncertain if they would deemed a close contact and miss the Test.

"The spinner didn't sleep," Starc said about Lyon.

"I slept quite fine. There wasn't much I could do about it."

Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, pictured here in 2017.
Australia's frontline bowling attack Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Australia perilously close to losing frontline bowling attack

Unlike Cummins, Starc and Lyon were ultimately cleared to play because they were seated outside at the restaurant.

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley has refused to comment on whether or not the Test would have gone ahead if Cummins, Starc and Lyon had all been ruled out.

With Josh Hazlewood recovering from a side strain, Australia would have been forced to field a completely new bowling attack without their frontline stars.

Jhye Richardson replaced the injured Hazlewood, while Michael Neser is making his debut in place of Cummins.

Cummins and Cricket Australia struck a deal with SA Health on Friday to allow the Test star to return home to Sydney.

Cummins drove himself to Adelaide airport on Saturday and caught a single charter flight to Sydney.

Under a health system quirk, he won't have to continue isolating in Sydney as NSW Health are yet to list the Adelaide steakhouse as a venue of COVID concern in that state.

So Cummins, who has tested negative to the virus, is free to train ahead of his expected return for the third Test starting on Boxing Day in Melbourne.

Starc said the team's biosecurity protocols haven't changed in the wake of the Cummins incident.

"No-one broke any rules," Starc said.

"We're all still obviously aware that things can be very unfortunate and you can get stuck in a few places.

"I guess guys might be more aware obviously in the next two venues," he said, referring to the looming Test matches in Melbourne and Sydney - cities with far higher Covid case numbers than Adelaide.

with AAP

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