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Fans have taken aim at the South Australian coronavirus rules which have prevented Test captain Pat Cummins from playing in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
Cummins was ruled out of the Test on Thursday morning just hours before it was due to begin, with vice captain Steve Smith taking over captaincy duties.
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The Australian captain had the misfortune of dining nearby a fellow patron who was informed during their meal that they had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Despite having already returned a negative test for the virus, SA Health regulations mean Cummins must isolate for seven days - meaning he will only be able to travel to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test on December 23.
The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the man who had initially learned of his positive test in the restaurant was a grade cricketer who had travelled from NSW to watch the Test match.
He had been required to get a PCR test upon arriving in Adelaide, but was not required to quarantine until the results came in - leading to his now unfortunate run-in with the Australian Test captain.
The rules in SA stand in contrast to other states such as NSW, where Cummins would have been free to end his self isolation after returning his negative PCR test.
Instead, he must still complete a full week of quarantine.
South Australian football great Kane Cornes described the state rules as "embarrassing", while many more labelled it a "farce".
— Kane Cornes (@kanecornes) December 16, 2021
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
But it wasn't just Australians dismayed by the last minute omission of Cummins, with plenty of fans around the world disappointed that the rules remained so strict in Australia.
Oliver Brown, chief cricket writer for the Telegraph in the UK, was highly critical of what he labelled 'obsessive' rules around the country which have been designed to try and limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Here in the City of Churches, public devotion at the altar of zero Covid is so absolute that nobody bothers to question the penalty Cummins must now pay,” Brown wrote.
"It is only the paranoia of the host state that mandates his exclusion.
“A long shadow is cast across this tour by Australia’s obsessive Covid edicts."
Brown said the technology issues which plagued the first Test in Brisbane, including failures of the DRS systems, were caused in part by the need to run them using only a skeleton crew thanks to hard entry requirements to Queensland.
He opined that it was a sign Australia was still not properly dealing with the challenges presented by the virus.
“Adelaide, while a beautiful venue for a pink-ball Test, also hardly lends itself readily to the pressures of hosting global sport," he said.
"For the Australian captain to be forced into hard lock-up when he does not even have the virus is the sign of a community still failing to reconnect with the outside world.”
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
Cummins won't be last COVID brush: Warner
Meanwhile, David Warner says it's inevitable that more players will become close contacts of Covid-19 cases as numbers rise around Australia.
Cummins will spend the next week in quarantine in Adelaide after interaction with a man who later discovered he had contracted the virus at dinner on Wednesday night.
The situation could have been far worse, with Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon at the same restaurant but able to play on given they were only casual contacts after sitting outside.
Restrictions will tighten somewhat in both Melbourne and Sydney from next week, with more than 1000 cases per day being recorded in both cities.
But Warner accepts Cummins' case is unlikely be the last to impact the series, as players attempt a commonsense approach.
"It's inevitable in today's society that people are going to get COVID or become close contacts," Warner said on Thursday night after his 95 against England.
"Unfortunately, Pat was in a spot where someone had tested positive that day."
Warner's comments came as Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley stressed the importance of players' mental well-being and how that would be under threat if placed in a hard bubble.
"What we don't want to do is to completely lock down the players," Hockley said on Thursday.
"We're very conscious of taking a precautionary approach.
"Our chief medical officer and our medical team will be working with the playing group, the ECB and their medical staff to make sure over the course of the rest of the Test match and over the rest of the tour, that we're mitigating the risk.
"I spoke to my counterpart this morning and everyone wants to see both sides with their full-strength best side out on the park.
"I think dining outside is a great way to further mitigate the risk."
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