England’s preparations for the fourth Ashes Test against Australia took another hit on Sunday after one of their net bowlers tested positive for COVD-19, leading to cancellation of their training session with other net bowlers deemed as close contacts.
Having already conceded the series after three successive defeats, England suffered the latest blow just hours after the tourists planned to draft former one-day captain Adam Hollioake into the team’s coaching staff, stated media reports here.
The fourth Test is scheduled to start on January 5. Earlier in the week, members of the England set-up had cleared a round of COVID-19 testing just before Day 2 of the Ashes Test at the MCG after two from their support staff and two from their families returned positive for the virus.
As a result of the positive cases, the start of play was delayed. The visitors are preparing for the fourth Test with a skeleton coaching staff after head coach Chris Silverwood was forced into isolation when a family member tested positive for COVID.
Pace bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness have also tested positive. It has left assistant coach Graham Thorpe in charge of the squad for the upcoming match.
Former England batter Thorpe is being supported by Nottinghamshire’s Ant Botha and ex-England wicketkeeper James Foster. Hollioake, a former England one-day captain who lives on the Gold Coast, had been asked to join the tourists in Sydney.
However, media reports stated on Sunday that a close contact of the 50-year-old Hollioake has subsequently tested positive. Australia has seen a spike in COVID cases in recent weeks much like the rest of the world.