Ashes 2nd Day: England stages MCG revival amid virus fear

A COVID-19 alert involving two English support staff delayed the start of Monday’s day two of the third Ashes cricket test and led to speculation that the series could be at risk if further outbreaks occur.

Recovering from 61-1 in response to England’s 185 first innings tally on green-tinged pitch at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia added 70 points for the three wicket loss, reaching 131-4 at lunchtime. Australia are behind England by 54 points in the opening rounds.

The night porter Nathan Lyon left for 10, caught late by the bowling of Ollie Robinson. Mark Wood made the key breakthrough pulling out world number one hitter Marnus Labuschagne, who was caught in the first slip for one at 84-3.

Steve Smith looked hesitant in his innings of 16 and was beaten by James Anderson at 110-4.

Opener Marcus Harris was not eliminated at 48 with Travis Head at 11 at the first break.

During a day of early drama, Cricket Australia released a statement confirming the COVID-19 outbreak in the English camp, which delayed the team’s arrival at the MCG and caused a 30-minute delay before the start of the game.

“Cricket Australia has been informed that two England cricket team support staff and two family members have returned a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test,” the statement said.

“Those affected are currently isolated. The entire playgroup and all support staff performed rapid antigen testing this morning and all tested negative. The England cricket team will also have PCR testing today, and both teams will take extra care throughout the game. “

A statement from the England Cricket Board previously revealed that the team and management were at the team hotel awaiting COVID test results “after testing positive in the team’s family group.”

The Australian Seven Network’s television coverage of the match was also affected. A broadcast staff member tested positive for the virus, forcing commentators to self-isolate as the network brought in a new team.

Australian captain Pat Cummins was unable to participate in the second test in Adelaide after becoming close contact with a COVID-19 case.

Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, England tours to South Africa and Sri Lanka have been dropped mid-tour due to concerns over COVID.

Australia lead the five-game series 2-0, meaning England must win the remaining three to win back the Ashes.

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