Australia have been dealt a blow ahead of the fourth Ashes Test against England (Match Betting – Australia 5/6, draw 13/10, England 8/1) as batsman Travis Head has been ruled out of the contest with Covid-19.
The hosts (6/4 to win series 5-0) have already secured the series after winning each of the first three Tests, the latest seeing them hand a drubbing to England with an innings and 14 runs the margin of victory.
Now, preparations are underway for the fourth Test in Sydney before the series ends in Hobart, in what has been a sorry chapter in English cricket history.
The latest round of PCR testing saw Head receive a positive result, meaning he now has to isolate in Melbourne for seven days while the rest of the squad travel to Sydney for the fourth Test.
However, the build up has been disrupted in both camps due to positive Covid tests.
England coach Chris Silverwood will miss the match as he has to self-isolate, meaning Graham Thorpe has been handed the reins for the Sydney contest.
Meanwhile, Australia have drafted in Mitchell Marsh, Josh Inglis and Nic Maddinson as squad cover.
A Cricket Australia spokesperson said: “As part of our testing procedures, we are PCR testing players, their families, and our support staff daily.
“Unfortunately, Travis returned a positive Covid-19 result earlier today. Thankfully, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test in Hobart.
“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.”
Head is Australia’s leading run scorer in the series so far with 248 at an average of 62.
He is likely to be replaced by Usman Khawaja who has been performing 12th man duties throughout the series so far.