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Cricket Australia and the South Australian government have clashed over the call to withdraw Pat Cummins from the second Ashes Test, with both blaming each other for the highly-criticised move.
The Australian captain was ruled out of the second Test against England after being deemed a close contact of a Covid case in Adelaide.
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The Test skipper was at a steakhouse on Wednesday night when another patron in the same indoor area as Cummins was notified he had Covid.
Under South Australia's health rules, close contacts must self-isolate for seven days - meaning Cummins is forced to miss the day-night Test in Adelaide.
However the call to make Cummins a close contact has been heavily criticised considering he has since tested negative and is fully vaccinated.
On Friday, SA Premier Steven Marshall hit back at criticism of his government, making the staggering claim that Cummins was ruled out by Cricket Australia before he was interviewed by health officials.
"This is a decision that was made by Cricket Australia, let's be very clear about it," Marshall told reporters on Friday.
"They put their statement out before we actually conducted the interview with Pat.
"So the issue is that Cricket Australia probably formed the opinion that they didn't want to have a chance for the entire two teams to be deemed as close contacts and ruin the entire Test series."
However Cricket Australia Chief executive Nick Hockley says CA was acting on 'inside information' from emergency meetings with SA Health.
“I think the Premier’s reference is that normally they go through quite a detailed process of contact tracing,” Hockley told SEN radio.
“The work we did was engage SA Health immediately. And we needed to understand the situation (very quickly).
"We called an emergency meeting with our contacts at SA health and they confirmed Pat would be treated as a close contact, so it was very much a collective decision and we had that confirmation through from SA Health.”
Nevertheless, Mr Marshall commended CA’s decision to prioritise the safety of the Ashes tour.
“I’m just saying I don’t think it was in anybody’s interest to have a potential person who was infected playing Ashes because it could potentially throw the entire series out,” he said.
“That was a decision that was made before we’d even conducted the interview.”
Pat Cummins ruled out of 2nd Test, despite testing negative. And now must isolate for 7 days. Farcical.
Sports must adapt to Covid and learn to play with it. If a player tests positive, withdraw them, but if they're vaccinated and test negative, play on.
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) December 16, 2021
— Kane Cornes (@kanecornes) December 16, 2021
What a joke! What happened to living with Covid?
— Anthony (@manu6832) December 16, 2021
So Pat Cummins
* Negative test
* Fully Vaccinated
No, sorry you can’t play the Test match.
Absolutely joke #ashes
— Albie Ussher (@shadymountain) December 16, 2021
Pat Cummins not being allowed to play because of being in an exposure sight is an utter disgrace. Should just require a negative test and then should be good to go. Unbelievable
— Jacob PAFC (@jacobpafc) December 16, 2021
It's the rules that are the disgrace mate.
vaccinated, neg test, no symptoms but has to isolate because someone on a different table had covid
Rapid test is clear, he should be clear.
— Simmo (@simmo052020) December 16, 2021
Pat Cummins to continue isolation period in Sydney
Meanwhile, Cummins has struck a deal with South Australian health authorities to return home to NSW for the rest of his enforced isolation.
In a deal struck with SA Health officials on Friday, Cummins has been allowed to drive from his Adelaide hotel to the city's airport where he will catch a single charter flight home to Sydney.
"He will continue to observe all isolation requirements in NSW," Cricket Australia said in a statement.
Hockley has ruled out putting players into lockdown when the five-Test series moves to Melbourne and Sydney, cities where Covid case numbers are higher than Adelaide and Hobart - the venue for the fifth Test.
Players would still be allowed to attend restaurants in small groups in Melbourne and Sydney - if they dined outdoors.
"If players are keeping themselves to small groups and they're interacting with their own group only, they're trying to keep away from indoor settings, then we think with masks and regular testing we can mitigate," Hockley said.
"It's a wake-up call for everyone across the game.
"We are confident in our protocols that they're appropriate and it is that fine balance about common sense.
"Everyone now just needs to be extra vigilant because we have had a real very high-profile case of disruption."
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