Australian bowler Mitchell Starc reportedly came close to being dramatically yanked out of the first Test match against India due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in New South Wales.
The rapid surge of coronavirus cases in Sydney’s northern beaches caused high drama at Adelaide Oval on Friday, with a cluster of cricket broadcasters rushed out of the state.
Channel 7 and Fox Sports were forced to stand down several producers and staff members as a result of their proximity to the Sydney cluster.
But as revealed by The Daily Telegraph’s Ben Horne, cricket superstar Starc was almost pulled out of the day-night Test match as well.
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Starc lives on Sydney’s northern beaches, and had left the Australian cricket team’s bubble last week to attend to a family illness.
The 30-year-old and his wife Alyssa Healy were reportedly on the northern beaches as recently as Friday, December 11th.
But according to Horne’s report, the South Australian Government had granted a rare exemption due to CA’s strict enforcement of biosecurity protocols.
The cricket organisation ensured Starc self-isolated for three days before rejoining the bubble. If he had not completed that 72-hour quarantine, he would have been withdrawn from the Test match against India and flown back to Sydney.
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“He is out there by the skin of his teeth,” cricket journalist Peter Lalor said on Channel 7. “If Starc hadn’t gone into a self-imposed isolation last Friday, he would probably have been pulled from the field today.
“CA had to go to the South Australian government and request special permission for him to stay because he was in the area where people are being asked to go into isolation.
“So he would have had to go back to the hotel, wouldn’t be playing in the match at this stage if it wasn’t for Cricket Australia’s COVID bubble that they have instituted.
“There have been a lot of people grumbling and moaning about these self-imposed restrictions from Cricket Australia, but we can see now the volume of them. It has allowed him to stay in this game and hopefully will allow the cricket to continue.”
As per the International Cricket Council’s newly-introduced COVID regulations, Victorian paceman James Pattinson would have been permitted to replace Starc in Australia’s starting XI.
Former Australian Test batsman Simon Katich explained on Channel 7: “It works exactly the same as concussion replacement, where the match referee gets involved and the player would be replaced during the game with a like-for-like player.”
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Former Test paceman Brett Lee was sent homefollowing an urgent memo from Cricket Australia asking for anyone who visited the northern beaches in the past three weeks to inform cricket officials.
Meanwhile, a trio of SEN radio commentators — former Australian spin bowler Gavin Robertson, Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and broadcaster Matt White — also returned to Sydney on Friday.
Soon after, Australian legend Ian Chappell suffered the same fate, reportedly asked to leave his beloved Adelaide Oval and complete a 14-day quarantine.
MITCHELL STARC’S BEST BOWLING AGAINST INDIA IN TEST CRICKET
4/53 — Adelaide Oval, Dec 2020
3/40 — Adelaide Oval, Dec 2018
3/46 — Perth Stadium, Dec 2018
3/106 — SCG, Jan 2015
On Friday morning, Starc removed wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and tailender Umesh Yadav to finish the first innings with 4/53, his best figures against India in Test cricket.
He then smacked 15 runs in a critical eight-wicket partnership with Australian skipper Tim Paine during the evening session.
India are 1/9 at stumps on day two, holding a narrow lead of 62 runs.
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