Covid: Players in Ashes, BBL Banned From Signing Autographs, Interacting With Fans, Says Report

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Adelaide, Dec 18 (IANS): With the Australian cricket team narrowly escaping a Covid-19 scare, Cricket Australia (CA) has reportedly asked its players to maintain social distancing with fans when the third and fourth Ashes Tests take place at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) respectively.

According to a report in theage.com.au on Saturday, “level-four protocols” have been put in place by CA in Melbourne and Sydney for the next two Tests, which will prevent the rival team players from eating indoors or attending bars.

Australian cricketers, keen on returning home after end of day’s play in the two Tests, have been told to take regular Covid-19 tests and not visit salons for haircuts.

“Test and Big Bash (League) cricketers will be banned from signing autographs in NSW and Victoria as Cricket Australia ramps up its Covid-19 protocols in hopes of avoiding another incident like the one that saw Pat Cummins forced to miss the second Test in Adelaide,” the reports said.

Australian skipper Cummins was ruled out of the ongoing Adelaide Test due to being deemed a close contact of a Covid-19 positive person while dining with fellow New South Wales and Adelaide Strikers fast bowler Harry Conway at Little Hunter Steakhouse on the eve of the Test.

He later self-drove to the airport from where he took a chartered flight — with him being the only occupant other than the pilots — to Sydney to self-isolate at his residence.

However, much to the CA selection panel’s relief, it was revealed on Saturday that Cummins had continued to test negative for the virus and he would be available for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG beginning on December 26.

“With 1504 Covid cases in Victoria and 2482 in NSW reported on Saturday, Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said players must social distance from fans when in those states,” the report said.

“We’re always on high alert,” Hockley said on radio SEN, adding that, “I think it’s a wake-up call for everyone across the game. It’s a wake-up call for sport. It’s not unique to sport in Australia or around the globe. We’re seeing a fair bit of disruption. Everyone now needs to be extra vigilant because we’ve had a very high-profile case of disruption.”

The BBL sees regular interaction between players and fans with fielders in the deep being approached for autographs.

“That’s where we need to make sure there’s social distancing, so we ask everyone to be respectful in the public,” Hockley added.

“That’s the real shame because what we have seen is players wanting to interact with fans. That’s been a feature of the Big Bash. But we’ve now got very clear protocols. As it comes to those on the field of play we need to make sure that people are operating in a really biosecure way.”

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