The Australian women's cricket team have sparked controversy in their gold medal triumph at the Commonwealth Games after Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play Sunday's final despite testing positive for Covid-19.
Word came through just minutes before the final against India on Sunday that McGrath had tested positive, delaying the toss.
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But in controversial scenes, the Australian team decided that star all-rounder McGrath would still be allowed to play.
The Australian Commonwealth Games team said the decision was made in consultation with the International Cricket Council and Australian medical staff.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) August 7, 2022
“Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) can confirm that cricketer Tahlia McGrath has returned a positive test for Covid-19,” the CGA said in a statement.
“CGA clinical staff have consulted with the Commonwealth Games Federation RACEG (Results Analysis Clinical Expert Group) team and match officials, and McGrath is taking part in today’s final against India.
“McGrath presented to team management with mild symptoms on Sunday and subsequently returned the positive test. She was named in the starting XI at the toss and the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved her participation in the final.
“In consultation with the CGF and the ICC, CGA and Cricket Australia medical staff have implemented a range of comprehensive protocols which will be observed throughout the game and for post-match activity, to minimise the risk of transmission to all players and officials.
“The CGA has maintained a comprehensive Covid-19 risk mitigation strategy for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with testing protocols over and above those required by the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee.”
Under relaxed Covid procedures at the Commonwealth Games, it is up to every individual country to decide what happens when an athlete tests positive.
Because McGrath only had mild symptoms it was decided she was allowed to play.
She was separated from her teammates during Australia's batting innings, sitting by herself and wearing a mask in the grandstand.
She removed the mask when she went out to bat, lasting just four balls before being dismissed, and was also maskless during Australia's bowling innings.
There were comical scenes when McGrath took a catch in the outfield before reminding her teammates not to come too close to her while celebrating.
However she did high-five teammate Jess Jonassen before they also tapped boots together - a celebration that gained popularity during the height of the pandemic.
McGrath also took part in the post-match medal ceremony, this time while wearing a mask while mingling with teammates and posing for photos.
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And while the Aussies followed all the protocols in place in Birmingham, a number of Indian fans and commentators were left fuming.
Sports reporter Naveen Sharma labelled the move “shameless” by Australia, tweeting: “Australians always preach about right or wrong but they forget everything when it comes to them."
Bloomberg News reporter Akshat Rathi wrote: “I don’t understand how the rules are allowing Tahlia McGrath on the field playing a cricket match after having tested positive for Covid-19. Dereliction of duty by authorities.”
Had the match been played in Australia, McGrath would have been forced to sit out and isolate for seven days, highlighting the ludicrous inconsistencies in Covid-19 policies.
— Akshat Rathi (@AkshatRathi) August 7, 2022
Covid positive Tahlia McGrath playing for Australia in CWG 2022 final against India. Australians always preach about right or wrong but they forget everything when it comes to them.#CommonwealthGames #CWG2022 #INDWvAUSW
— Naveen Sharma (@iamnaveenn100) August 7, 2022
Tahlia McGrath, having tested positive for COVID-19, walks out to bat.
I am sure other teams will take notice and follow suit in the months to come.
Be prepared to see more COVID-19 positive cricketers on the field in future.
— Abhishek Mukherjee (@ovshake42) August 7, 2022
Tahlia McGrath, who tested positive for Covid and has been allowed to play the gold medal match, in to bat now.... And is out on 2 off 4 (Super, diving catch from Radha Yadav)
The rules don't stop her from playing but this raises so many questions! #CWG2022
— Zenia D'cunha (@ZENIADCUNHA) August 7, 2022
Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play in today's final against India despite testing positive test for Covid-19. She was dismissed in four deliveries but ummm....safety hazard anyone?????#CWG22 | #B2022 pic.twitter.com/akjZuhFt2M
— Shyam Vasudevan (@JesuisShyam) August 7, 2022
lowkey cannot believe tahlia mcgrath is allowed to play the final of the womens cricket commonwealth WHILST BEING covid positive like bruh are you really okay with putting other's at risk like this?
— meds-gin 🐍🌞 (@kehnahikyaax) August 7, 2022
They say that Australians do whatever it takes to win like no other can, and today allowing Tahlia McGrath, a COVID+ player to participate in a cricket match is the epitome of the said statement.
— AJN (@LifeIsAnElation) August 7, 2022
Most bizarre & irresponsible decision. She shouldn’t have been allowed. Djokovic must be scratching his head, he wasn’t even +ve!
— Venkat (@PledgeGren) August 7, 2022
— Banjit Kalita (বনজিৎ কলিতা) (@BanjitKalita10) August 7, 2022
Tahlia McGrath is just breathing heavily near the players while covid positive? This is just a huge joke of a tournament. Completely and utterly selfish by the Aussies.
— Cɾαȥȥყ Jαȥȥყ | Stranger Things Spoilers (@ducky7goofy) August 7, 2022
Australia went on to win the gold medal, beating India by nine runs in a thrilling final.
The Aussies held on despite a brilliant knock by Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, adding Commonwealth gold to World T20 and ODI success.
Ash Gardner, the hero with the bat when Australia beat India to open the tournament, this time starred with the ball, taking 3-16 off three overs - including the match-turning wicket of Kaur.
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