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'Piss take' saves Starc and Lyon from COVID calamity

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18th December, 2021

Only an old-fashioned “piss take” prevented more Australian bowlers being ruled of Adelaide’s Ashes Test.

Mitchell Starc says he and Nathan Lyon didn’t sit with Test captain Pat Cummins at the fateful Wednesday night dinner in Adelaide for one reason.

“It was almost a bit of a piss take because Pat didn’t reply to our message,” Starc said.

“We thought we would sit away from him and sit outside.

“So it has been a lucky one.”

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Starc and Lyon dined outside while Cummins was inside the Little Hunter steakhouse in central Adelaide.


Another diner near Cummins was notified he had tested positive to COVID-19.

Due to Cummins’ proximity inside the restaurant, the skipper was deemed by South Australian Health as a close contact of the confirmed case.

Australian captain Pat Cummins celebrates with team mates after dismissing Chris Woakes of England during day one of the First Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at The Gabba on December 08, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

That Thursday morning ruling meant Cummins was withdrawn from playing in Adelaide and forced into seven days isolation.

Starc said he and Lyon were unaware of the COVID drama until they returned to the team hotel.

They spent Wednesday night uncertain if they would deemed a close contact and miss the Test.

“The spinner didn’t sleep,” Starc said.


“I slept quite fine. There wasn’t much I could do about it.”

Unlike Cummins, Starc and Lyon were ultimately cleared to play because they were seated outside at the restaurant.

Mitchell Starc of Australia bowls during day four of the 3rd Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 10, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc (Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Cummins and Cricket Australia struck a deal with SA Health on Friday to allow the Test star to return home to Sydney.

Cummins drove himself to Adelaide airport on Saturday and caught a single charter flight to Sydney.

And under a health system quirk, he won’t have to continue isolating in Sydney as NSW Health are yet to list the Adelaide steakhouse as a venue of COVID concern in that state.


So Cummins, who has tested negative to the virus, is free to train ahead of his expected return for the third Test starting on Boxing Day in Melbourne.

Starc said the team’s biosecurity protocols haven’t changed in the wake of the Cummins incident.

“No-one broke any rules,” Starc said.

“We’re all still obviously aware that things can be very unfortunate and you can get stuck in a few places.

“I guess guys might be more aware obviously in the next two venues,” he said, referring to the looming Test matches in Melbourne and Sydney, cities with far higher COVID case numbers than Adelaide.