The final two Tests of this Ashes series may be moved over concerns about lengthy isolation periods for members of England ‘s touring party after a smattering of positive Covid tests.
The ongoing third Test against Australia was briefly thrown into chaos ahead of day two, when two family members and two of the team’s support staff returned positive rapid antigen tests.
England’s players were told not to leave their hotel and were all tested before they were able to travel to the MCG, leading to a half-hour delay to the start of play.
No England players tested positive, but non-playing members of the side Stuart Broad and Craig Overton did not travel.
Everyone took PCR tests at the end of the day’s play, and any positive results might leave the future of the third Test and the rest of the tour in doubt.
And even if everyone is given the all-clear, tighter Covid rules in the Australian states they need to travel to for the fourth and fifth Tests might leave some players reluctant to travel over what might happen in terms of close contacts needing to isolate.
After this match in Melbourne, the England party is due to travel to Sydney for the fourth Test before rounding off the tour in Hobart.
Jimmy Anderson was keen to reassure fans that all the England team felt well on the field when asked about the situation after day two’s action had concluded.
“We actually got on the bus to come to the ground at the usual time but were then told to get off the bus because we found out about a couple of positive lateral flows,” he said.
“All the lads then went in and had lateral flows to make sure we were all okay and then waited for the all-clear to come here to the ground.
“As far as I’m aware the whole playing group feels fine and the management that are in at the ground today is fine.”
“We’ve stepped up the safety protocols around the dressing-room, wearing masks and keeping distance where possible to make sure if there is any infection around the group it’s not spread.”
He admitted, though, that the future of the tour was unclear for him and his fellow players, who were all waiting on their results.
“We’re all having PCR tests now and we’ll need all those to be clear really if possible. So we’ll just have to wait and see what the results are from them.
“As long as the group that’s in at the ground today are negative I don’t see why we can’t carry on.”
Meanwhile, former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested that the rest of the series could be played in Melbourne to remove any complications around travel and isolation from the equation.
“This is the situation now, it wasn’t the situation a week ago. We have to act and potentially start here on January 5 under the lights at the MCG,” he said, referring to the scheduled start date for the fourth Test.