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Shield plays on after positive COVID case

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19th November, 2021
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Cricket Australia will push on with the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and NSW despite Will Sutherland testing positive to COVID-19.

After Day 1 was postponed on Friday, CA confirmed play would start on Saturday confident Sutherland was the only positive case in Victoria’s camp.

The decision for the match to go ahead marks a massive watershed moment in Australian sport through the pandemic, given it is the first in-competition case since vaccination began.

After learning of a positive test on Friday morning, Sutherland was tested again later in the day and returned another positive result.

The fully-vaccinated all-rounder will remain in Victoria’s team hotel in Sydney for ten days in quarantine.

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The remainder of Victoria’s camp was also thrown into self-isolation and re-tested following Sutherland’s positive test, with ten having since received negative results.

Six others are still awaiting the result of their secondary COVID-19 tests, with none of the players or support staff deemed close contacts.

“Will Sutherland is currently self-isolating and experiencing minor symptoms after testing positive,” Cricket Australia’s chief medical officer Dr John Orchard said.

“He is in good spirits and in regular contact with Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia staff.

Will Sutherland

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“We are satisfied the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Victoria can begin safely tomorrow.

“While it is impossible to remove all risk from this situation, Will was relatively non-infectious during his periods of interaction with members of the Victorian team.

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“As such, and due to their compliance with biosecurity protocols, all members of the Victorian squad have been deemed casual contacts.

“They will be able to take the field at the SCG tomorrow subject to receiving negative results.”

The decision to play on came after CA held key meetings with both states late on Friday night.

The four-day match will now run until Tuesday over what is expected to be a wet weekend in Sydney.

A 50-over domestic match will still begin as scheduled on Wednesday, but now with no rest day in between.

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Victorian officials are also investigating how Sutherland could have contracted the virus, with Fox Sports claiming he had attended a house party, which has since had more than 12 positive cases.

Such a visit would not be a breach of biosecurity rules, with restrictions lightened on Victoria and NSW players after Ashes squad members had played their last domestic game with the groups.

It’s therefore understood the positive test does not impact on the Victorians inside the Queensland bubble ahead of the Ashes, which includes Marcus Harris and Australia A representatives Scott Boland and Nic Maddinson.

Marcus Harris of Victoria bats.

Marcus Harris. (Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“It’s obviously disappointing for Will. He is currently displaying some mild symptoms,” Cricket Victoria GM Shaun Graf said.

“We’ll be working closely with our medical staff, Cricket Australia and the NSW Department of Health to support him through this quarantine and isolation and have him return to Melbourne when he is cleared to do so.”

The entire NSW and Victorian squads have been fully vaccinated, with cricket the first sport to reach full dosage across the country at domestic level.

Sutherland has played in the two Shield matches between the sides in the last four weeks, with Victoria winning both.

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© AAP

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