Fourth Ashes Test set to go ahead after no further Covid-19 cases are found in Australia’s squad with Usman Khawaja ready to replace virus-positive Travis Head in Sydney as England fight to avert series whitewash
- Fourth Ashes Test gets underway at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday
- Australia have returned no further positive Covid-19 cases in latest testing
- Batsman Travis Head tested positive before the squad departed Melbourne
- Seven members of England’s touring party also recorded positive Covid tests
- Usman Khawaja is in the frame to replace Head in the Australian line-up
The fourth Ashes Test looks set to go ahead after no further Covid-19 cases were detected in the Australia squad in their latest round of testing.
Doubts had descended on the New Year fixture in Sydney when batter Travis Head was found to be carrying the virus prior to the team’s departure from Melbourne on Friday.
He was the first player from either side to test positive in their daily screening schedule, but seven members of England’s wider touring party as well as match referee David Boon also contracted Covid in recent days.
Australia have recorded no further positive Covid cases in the latest round of testing after Travis Head (pictured) was found to have the virus
Australia had been braced for a wider spread, having called up three cover players, but their entire squad and the support staff came back negative on New Year’s Day.
One test, for a family member, remains unreported and both teams have taken another round of PCRs, their sixth since the first case was identified in the England camp.
Meanwhile, Usman Khawaja is ready to fill in for Head in the fourth test but the veteran Australia batsman hopes he will have more than a stop-gap role this year.
Khawaja is aware that Head, whose match-winning 152 in the Brisbane opener set the tone for Australia’s unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, is likely to reclaim the spot in the final test in Hobart but believes he can still contribute to Australia.
England coach Chris Silverwood is in isolation in Melbourne after a family member tested positive, with the rest of the touring party moving on to Sydney for the fourth Test
‘It’s one of those things where even if I do play, it’ll only be for one game,’ Khawaja told Cricket Australia (CA).
‘I understand that situation … hopefully I can go out there and score a hundred and do well for the team in the absence of ‘Heady’.’
‘Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s a lot of cricket still to come up,’ he said.
Australia will tour Pakistan in March and April and Khawaja hopes to be part of the squad.
‘I’ll potentially have one game for Australia here, but even if that doesn’t happen, I know there’s still …a lot of cricket on the subcontinent which I feel I’m very suited too.’
Usman Khawaja is expected to come into the Australia line-up for the fourth Test this week
‘I’m just putting my head down, making sure I’m working really hard and doing the best I can for Australia whenever I get the opportunity.’
Should he get that in Sydney, the Queensland captain is confident of making the most of it despite sitting out the first three matches of the series.
‘It’s always nicer when you’re coming off games. I haven’t played for probably a month now, but it shouldn’t take too long.
‘If I play and get out there, bat for half an hour and get into it, I should find that sync again.’
Khawaja turned 35 last month and said he felt fit enough to carry on.
‘I still feel quite young in my head. As long as that’s there, I still have the fire spark and as long as the body’s holding up…I’ll keep playing the game.’