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Australian batsman Travis Head has tested positive for Covid-19 just hours before the team was set to travel from Melbourne to Sydney for the fourth Ashes Test.
The 28-year-old will not be available for the New Years Test and Cricket Australia is cautiously awaiting the results of testing carried out on the rest of the playing squad.
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“The remainder of the Australian squad, their families and the support staff have undergone PCR and RAT tests this morning,” Cricket Australia said in a statement.
“Thankfully, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test in Hobart.”
England has already been affected by the rising number of cases across the country, with head coach Chris Silverwood testing positive earlier this week.
The visitors have also had several positive cases among the party of friends and family on tour, however no positive tests have been recorded among the players.
ICC match referee David Boon also tested positive this week.
Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have been added to the Australian squad as a precaution, in case of further cases among the side.
Travis Head tests positive for covid and will miss the fourth test. Would definitely be some respite for England considering he’s been the man in form. But then, can they stop smith and marnus again? And then amp up their batting performance? #ashes pic.twitter.com/US4YFOO9vw
— Teeshay (@teeshays) December 31, 2021
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) December 31, 2021
Usman Khawaja likely to replace Travis Head at No.5 - the position the Queensland captained batted for Australia A earlier this month.
But Mitch Marsh, Nic Maddison and Josh Inglis have joined the squad.
— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) December 31, 2021
Covid-19 wreaking havoc on Australian cricket
The news out of the Australian camp comes as Big Bash league side the Melbourne Stars are dealing with a wider outbreak among the team.
In a dramatic few hours for the league, a member of the Stars' support staff was confirmed to be COVID-positive on Thursday, forcing the postponement of their match against Perth.
The Stars' squad was hastily rushed in for PCR tests, but were still awaiting results just hours before the scheduled 7.15pm start time.
It prompted CA to postpone the match, ending one-and-a-half summers of 205 men's and women's Big Bash games going ahead as scheduled despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.
"While regrettable the decision to postpone tonight's match was the only option available given the exposures within the Stars cohort," BBL boss Alistair Dobson said.
"The league has a number of biosecurity protocols in place to keep our participants safe and the competition moving forward.
"These protocols are regularly reviewed in response to the risks in each state.
"Safety remains our number one priority and we will work with the Stars to get their side back on the field as soon as possible."
The Stars host Perth again on Sunday before the big Melbourne derby the following day at the MCG ,which is expected to attract 40,000 fans.
Getting those matches on is key for Cricket Australia while still managing the health of players.
"We are understandably disappointed for our members, fans, partners and broadcasters that tonight's match against the Scorchers cannot go ahead," Stars general manager Blair Crouch said.
"But the broader health of our players, staff and the community comes first.
"The staff member is being managed by Melbourne Stars medical staff in consultation with Cricket Australia and we look forward to them being able to return to the group in due course.
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