Australian batter Travis Head has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling him out of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG.
The Australian reported on Friday morning an unnamed batter in the squad has contracted the virus, with uncertainty over how many teammates could be considered close contacts.
Cricket Australia have since confirmed in a statement the player is Head.
“Head is asymptomatic and will remain in Melbourne and isolate with his partner for seven days in line with Victorian Government Health requirements,” the statement read.
“He will be unavailable for selection for the fourth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test, starting at the SCG on January 5.
“The remainder of the Australian squad, their families and the support staff have undergone PCR and RAT tests this morning. Both the Australian and England squads are expected to separately travel to Sydney as planned today.
“As a precautionary measure Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have joined the Australian squad as additional cover.”
It is a bitter blow for Head, who was one of the frontrunners for player of the series honours following his stunning century in the first Test at the Gabba.
Only England captain Joe Root has scored more runs for the series than Head’s 248, but the South Australian has appeared in two fewer innings.
The Australian team’s flight has already been delayed from heading to Sydney. They were originally scheduled to depart on Friday afternoon.
According to journalist Peter Lalor, who broke the story, the case has backup batter Usman Khawaja firming as an inclusion for the New Year’s Test should it go ahead.
Usman Khawaja looks set to play in Sydney following this news https://t.co/pE1jLF4oca
— Peter Lalor (@plalor) December 31, 2021
“We anticipate that he [Head] will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test in Hobart,” a CA spokesperson said on Friday. That Test is scheduled to begin on January 14.
“We are grateful to our exceptional medical staff for all the work they have done throughout this series and we will continue to work with and support the players, their families and staff from both teams.”
The news comes after seven members of England’s touring party contracted the virus in Melbourne, with coach Chris Silverwood among a group unable to travel with the team to Sydney as he isolates.
However, their players have reportedly tested negative again.
The BBL New Year’s Eve clash at the Adelaide Oval between the Strikers and the Sydney Thunder is also up in the air, after a Thunder player reportedly tested positive as well.