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Ashes 2021: Smith replaces Cummins as Australia captain due to COVID-19 scare


Australia will be without captain Pat Cummins after the pacer was identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. With the second Ashes Test beginning on Thursday, Steve Smith is back as the Australian captain.

It will be Smith’s first appearance as captain since the Cape Town, South Africa ball-tampering scandal in 2018 which cost him the captaincy and a subsequent two-year leadership ban as well as a 12-month suspension from representing Australia.

Less than three hours before the toss for the day-night test at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, Cricket Australia said in a statement that Cummins had been exposed to the COVID-19 case when he was dining in a restaurant the previous night and he hadn’t breached any biosecurity protocols.

Cummins isolated as soon as he became aware of the situation and has since had a COVID-19 test, which was negative. He is however required to isolate for seven days for being a close contact. Cricket Australia said that he should be available for the third Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting December 26.

“Gutted to miss this test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green,” Cummins said in a Twitter post. “He has done the hard yards and is a seriously skilful player. Super frustrating but COVID has thrown us all some curve balls over the last couple of years. Will be cheering along!”

Cricket Australia said fellow Australia bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were dining at the same restaurant as Cummins but at a separate table outdoors. SA Health said Starc and Lyon were casual contacts and they are free to play.

Cummins’ absence along with that of injured Josh Hazlewood is a big blow to Australia after opening the series with a nine-wicket win in Brisbane.

Australia (Playing XI): David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith(c), Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey(w), Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon

England (Playing XI): Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Joe Root(c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler(w), Chris Woakes, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

 





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