England 'shambles' as Covid case rocks training session at SCG

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·Sports Editor
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  • Adam Hollioake
    Cricket player of England. (born 1971)
Rory Burns, Jack Leach and Dom Bess, pictured here during an England training session.
Rory Burns, Jack Leach and Dom Bess look on during an England training session. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

England's Ashes nightmare continues to go from bad to worse with a positive Covid case reportedly disrupting a training session on Sunday.

The tourists were training at the SCG when a net bowler reportedly received word that he had tested positive.

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It left England without any net bowlers because they were all deemed close contacts.

Bharat Sundaresan of CrizBuzz broke the news on Twitter, saying one the batters described the drama as a “shambles”.

England suffered another cruel blow on Sunday ahead of the fourth Ashes Test, with plans to bring in former player Adam Hollioake to serve on the coaching staff scuppered by Covid-19.

The tourists are preparing for the fourth Test with a skeleton coaching staff after head coach Chris Silverwood was forced into isolation when a family member tested positive for Covid.

Hollioake, a former England one-day captain who lives on the Gold Coast, had been asked to join the tourists in Sydney ahead of the SCG clash starting on Wednesday.

Hollioake agreed, however it emerged on Sunday that a close contact of the 50-year-old has subsequently tested positive and he is unable to take up the offer.

The former all-rounder had been due to work with players in outdoor settings only.

But with any further spread potentially putting the last two Tests of the series in doubt, there are tight restrictions on those allowed to join the team environment.

Silverwood is chief among the absentees for England, isolating with the positive family member in Melbourne.

Pace bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness have also tested positive.

That leaves assistant coach Graham Thorpe in charge of the squad this week. 

He is being supported by Nottinghamshire's Ant Botha and former England wicketkeeper James Foster, but both men are only on part-time consultancy contracts.

Adam Hollioake, pictured here speaking to media in Afghanistan.
Adam Hollioake is unable to join the England camp in Sydney. (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

No more positive Covid cases in Australian squad

Meanwhile, Australia are hopeful Travis Head will be the only enforced omission for the SCG Test after the rest of the squad tested negative for Covid-19 on Saturday.

Head is isolating in Melbourne after contracting the virus, meaning he will miss the fourth Test.

There were concerns that teammates and support staff would become part of an outbreak, prompting selectors to add cover players Mitch Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis to an enlarged squad.

Every person in Australia's touring party, including family members, was tested on Friday, with Cricket Australia confirming there are no new cases.

The test result of one family member is yet to be received.

Travis Head, pictured here during an Australia training session in Melbourne.
Travis Head looks on during an Australia training session in Melbourne. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Australia and England's squads will continue to be tested daily, with the prospect of further cases still possible in coming days, but the hosts aren't planning on summoning additional players.

Cricket Australia was notably concerned about opener Marcus Harris, who dined with Head this week as Australia celebrated taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.

Harris did not board Friday's delayed charter flight, remaining in Melbourne as a precautionary measure after Head's result triggered confusion.

"We were supposed to leave mid-morning and didn't end up coming until 5pm or 6pm ... probably the longest I've had in Australian transit," Usman Khawaja said.

"But we're here now, so happy to go ahead."

CA is still mulling the best way for Harris, Marsh, Maddinson and Inglis to travel from Melbourne to Sydney for the fourth Test.

with AAP

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