Fresh Covid drama overshadows New Year's Ashes Test

·4-min read
Seen here, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley speaking on Jane McGrath day at the SCG in 2021.
Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley is the latest to be ruled out of the Sydney Test after contracting Covid-19. Pic: AAP

Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has joined a growing list of players and officials ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney after testing positive for Covid-19.

Hockley is isolating at home with his family after falling ill with the Covid-19 virus.

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In the latest virus disruption to the Australian cricket season, CA said its chief executive developed mild symptoms and a PCR test confirmed he had caught the disease.

The Aussie team is also without batsman Travis Head after he tested positive, with Test legend Glenn McGrath also set to miss the 'pink' Test that he helped spearhead.

McGrath tested positive for the virus on Sunday, just three days before the start of the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.

It is a cruel blow for the Aussie legend, with the Sydney Test turning pink every year to raise money for the McGrath Foundation.

McGrath set up the foundation after the death of wife Jane in 2008 from breast cancer.

Pictured here, Glenn McGrath with partner Sarah Leonardi at the SCG.
Glenn McGrath with partner Sarah Leonardi at the SCG. Image: Getty

England coach Chris Silverwood is also being forced to sit out the Sydney spectacle after a PCR test confirmed he had picked up the virus, despite being asymptomatic.

CA chief Hockley, who is fully vaccinated, will also be forced to watch the match on television, although his family members have tested negative.

Hockley has followed CA's biosecurity rules strictly, meaning he has had no direct contact with the Australian men's Test squad or other teams.

"After experiencing mild symptoms, I immediately got a PCR test which has since returned a positive result," Hockley said in a statement.

"Over recent days, we have seen cases in relation to the Australian men's Ashes team and some of the BBL teams.

"It is a reminder of the complexity COVID-19 presents for major sporting events and the importance of being vaccinated, getting a booster as soon as possible, and getting tested as soon as symptoms present themselves.'"

On Sunday, Marcus Harris, Mitch Marsh and Josh Inglis started driving to Sydney to bolster the Australian squad for the Sydney Test.

Marsh and Inglis, called into Australia's enlarged Ashes squad after Head contracted the coronavirus, shared in a road trip from Melbourne.

Harris, blocked from boarding Australia's charter flight on New Year's Eve because he dined with Head, undertook the same journey in a separate vehicle.

Aussies bring in cover after Travis Head tests positive

Nic Maddinson, the third cover player drafted into Australia's squad on Friday, has remained in Melbourne and will only make the dash north if required.

Australia remain upbeat Head will be the only enforced omission on Wednesday, when their five-Test series against England resumes.

England coach Silverwood, who was already isolating in Melbourne as a close contact, then tested positive for coronavirus in a further disruption to the fourth Test.

Otherwise, the two squads have returned negative tests since Head's result sent the series into a spin.

CA is yet to tighten biosecurity restrictions, meaning players are free to leave their team hotel to dine outdoors.

A local net bowler provided the series' latest Covid scare on Sunday, when it is believed he attended England's training session but did not come into close contact with a player.

England agreed to tour on the basis they would not be placed under restrictive protocols.

McGrath, who has helped turn Australia's year-opening Test into a fundraising drive to support those with breast cancer access care nurses, is isolating at home and feels well.

There is hope McGrath will return a negative test in time to attend day three of the SCG Test, now known as Jane McGrath Day.

But the former paceman will be restricted to a virtual presence at the ground on Monday, when both sides are presented with baggy pink caps that will be auctioned as part of the fund-raising drive.

with AAP

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