Ashes: England’s preparations for Sydney Test hit by COVID case
The fourth Test between Australia and England is set to begin on January 5
England have already lost the series 3-0, with fourth and fifth Tests remaining
England are training at the SCG without their head coach Chris Silverwood
England’s 2021-22 Ashes campaign in Australia continues to go from bad to worse with a positive COVID case reportedly disrupting their training session at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the venue for the fourth Test, on Sunday.
England were training at the SCG when a net bowler reportedly received word that he had tested positive. It left England without any net bowlers because they were all deemed close contacts.
Cricbuzz broke the news on their Twitter page, saying one of England’s batters described the drama as a “shambles”.
England, who have already lost the Ashes series 3-0 with fourth and fifth Tests remaining, suffered another blow on Sunday, with plans to bring in former player Adam Hollioake to serve on the coaching staff blocked by COVID-19.
The tourists are preparing for the fourth Test without their head coach Chris Silverwood who was forced into isolation when a family member tested positive for COVID-19 in Melbourne.
Hollioake, a former England one-day captain who lives on the Gold Coast, had been asked to join the tourists in Sydney ahead of the SCG clash starting on Wednesday. Though he agreed, it emerged on Sunday that a close contact of the 50-year-old has subsequently tested positive and he is unable to take up the offer.
The former all-rounder had been due to work with players in outdoor settings only. But with any further spread potentially putting the last two Tests of the series in doubt, there are tight restrictions on those allowed to join the team environment.
England’s fast bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness have also tested positive for COVID-19. That leaves assistant coach Graham Thorpe to take charge of the squad this week.
He is being supported by Nottinghamshire's Ant Botha and former England wicketkeeper James Foster, but both men are only on part-time consultancy contracts.