Australia captain Pat Cummins out of second Ashes Test in Adelaide and must isolate for seven days; Steve Smith to skipper side for first time since ball-tampering scandal; Australia lead five-match series 1-0 after nine-wicket victory in Brisbane last week
Last Updated: 16/12/21 3:26am
Australia captain Pat Cummins has been ruled out of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide after coming into close contact with a positive coronavirus case.
The dramatic development emerged just hours before the start of the pink-ball match, with Steve Smith to now lead Australia at Adelaide Oval and Travis Head to serve as the hosts’ vice-captain.
Cummins went for an evening meal in the city, in line with the team guidelines, and was sat close to an individual who was found to be carrying the virus.
Cricket Australia said Mitchell Starc and spinner Nathan Lyon were dining at the same restaurant as Cummins but at a separate table outdoors. They were deemed casual contacts and are free to play.
Smith, named vice-captain ahead of the series, will now skipper Australia for the first time since he resigned as captain in the aftermath of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Michael Neser replaces Cummins in Australia’s bowling attack and makes his Test debut for a side already without another key seamer, in Josh Hazlewood, due to a side strain.
Australia lead the five-match series 1-0 after beating England by nine wickets in the opening fixture in Brisbane.
A Cricket Australia statement read: “Pat Cummins has been deemed a close contact of a person who received a positive Covid-19 test last night.
“Cummins was dining in a restaurant last night and did not breach any biosecurity protocols. He isolated as soon as he became aware of the situation and has since had a PCR test, which produced a negative result.
Gutted to miss this Test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green. 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!
— Pat Cummins (@patcummins30) December 16, 2021
“SA Health has confirmed that Cummins is a close contact and will be required to isolate for seven days. As a consequence, Cummins is unavailable to play in the second Vodafone men’s Ashes Test match in Adelaide, starting today.
“Cummins is understandably very disappointed.”
Cummins wrote on Twitter: “Gutted to miss this Test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green. 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!”