Australia’s 2nd Test plans were thrown into chaos on the day of the game after it was reported skipper Pat Cummins could be a close contact of a positive covid case from a restaurant on Wednesday night.
Cummins is understood to have left the restaurant as soon as the person in an adjoining table was notified as being a positive case.
But his swift manoeuvre may not have been quick enough for him to avoid needing to isolate and get tested himself.
And with the game due to start in a matter of hours, it appears unlikely that Cummins will be able to take his place on the field alongside his teammates.
It would mean an incredible return to the captaincy for Steve Smith more than three years after he was stripped of the honour surrounding sandpapergate.
The moment Smith was appointed vice captain under Cummins there was a strong chance that he would have to step up at some point, most probably due to injury.
But Covid has shown it has a way of interrupting any and every circumstance and this time it is set to see a return to decision-making for Smith.
Australia would also need to adjust their bowling attack with Michael Neser the straight swap after narrowly missing out to Jhye Richardson for Josh Hazlewood’s spot.
If Cummins does join Hazlewood on the sidelines, it will be a double jab for the Aussies and a bonus for England who are 1-0 down and desperate to get back into the series.
Cummins is the best Test bowler in the world so to lose him as well as Hazlewood would be a nightmare scenario, but one that the Aussies will simply have to adapt to.
And it is hard to see how they can avoid Cummins missing the game when the current rules in South Australia say that close contacts must isolate for seven days.
What Cricket Australia are investigating is whether or not Cummins actually spent enough time, close enough to the positive case to be deemed an official close contact.
Reports suggest that Cricket Australia are set to take a cautious approach to the situation to be careful. Were Cummins to be cleared to play it could call into question their approach to the virus given the quarantine conditions players were initially put through.
Australia have only played twice in the last six years and 57 games without both Cummins and Hazlewood when they drew and lost to Pakistan in the UAE in 2018.
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