Ashes series in the balance after virus scare in Melbourne

National Sports

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)England fast bowler James Anderson is urging officials to continue with the Ashes series against Australia despite a COVID-19 drama which unfolded at the team’s hotel on Monday and delayed the start of the second day of the third test.

Like other sporting events around the world, this one could be at the mercy of COVID-19 test results.

Before play even began on Monday, Cricket Australia called for calm after a COVID-19 scare involving two members of England’s support staff resulted in a 30-minute delay to the start of play.

Australia was bowled out for 267 as the home side grabbed a first-innings advantage of 82 runs, before England reached 31-4 in its second innings at stumps on Monday.

”We actually got on the bus to come to the ground at the usual time and then got told to get off the bus because we found out about a couple of positives (cases),” Anderson said.

England’s players were then tested and waited about 45 minutes before the scheduled 10.30 a.m. start before heading to the ground.

”We’re all having tests now,” Anderson said after taking 4-33 in Australia’s first innings. ”We’ll have to wait and see what the results are. As long as the group that is here at the ground today are negative, I don’t see why we can’t carry on.

”As far as I’m aware, the whole playing group feels fine.”

Australia’s opening batter Marcus Harris said he was confident the show would go on.

”There are going to be hiccups. It’s the world we live in,” Harris said. ”We can get games played. Issues arise but there are things in place and everyone is trying their hardest to make sure the games are played. I think we will find a way to get it done.”

Earlier, Cricket Australia’s chief executive Nick Hockley said there was no need to change current plans, which include staging the fourth and fifth tests in Sydney and Hobart, respectively.

”We just need to remain calm and get the facts,” Hockley said. ”Everyone needs to follow the medical advice. On that basis, we keep going.”

In a day of early drama, Cricket Australia released a statement confirming the COVID-19 outbreak within the England camp, which delayed the team’s arrival at the MCG and caused a 30-minute delay to the start of play.

”Cricket Australia has been informed that two members of the England cricket team’s support staff and two of their family members have returned a positive COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test,” the statement said.

”The affected individuals are currently isolating.”

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, England’s tours of South Africa and Sri Lanka were abandoned mid-tour due to COVID concerns.

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