COVID leaves Aussie ODI series in jeopardy

Mitchell Starc had been hoping to star again before the ODI against the Windies was postponed.
Mitchell Starc had been hoping to star again before the ODI against the Windies was postponed.

Australia's remaining one-day internationals in the Caribbean and imminent T20 series in Bangladesh have been cast into doubt after a positive COVID-19 test in Barbados.

The second ODI against the West Indies on Friday morning (AEST) was postponed in bizarre and dramatic circumstances before a ball could be bowled after one of the host's backroom staff tested positive for the virus.

The teams were named, the captains had tossed and Australia were ready to bat at Kensington Oval when a halt was suddenly called to proceedings moments before the first ball was due to be bowled.

Amid a brief and confusing delay for onlookers while the players, support staff and match officials retreated to their dressing rooms, the International Cricket Council then announced in a statement on Twitter the match had been suspended.

Cricket West Indies later confirmed the positive test came from "a non-playing member" on their staff, and explained the result had not been known until after the toss had taken place.

"The established COVID-19 protocols stipulate that all members of both teams and match officials will return immediately to the team hotel and will be re-tested later today," said a statement from CWI.

"They will remain in isolation in their hotel rooms until their PCR test results are returned."

A Cricket Australia spokesman added: "The Australian squad has returned to the team hotel and is in room isolation."

Johnny Grave, the Cricket West Indies CEO, said it was hoped the results of the fresh round of tests would be known by Friday morning.

CWI said a decision on when the match will be replayed would be made at a later date once all the test results are confirmed.

There is little time to reschedule the postponed game as the third and final match is slated for Sunday (AEST) and the West Indies are supposed to start a five-game T20 series against Pakistan three days later.

Australia are scheduled to head to Bangladesh for a five-match T20 international series crammed into seven days, starting on August 3, with the tour only confirmed on Wednesday.

The teams have been staying on separate floors of the hotels in both St Lucia and Barbados where the opening two matches have been scheduled, but all of them travelled on the same charter plane between the islands last Saturday.

The suspension of the game was particularly untimely for paceman Riley Meredith, who had been due to make his ODI debut and had received his cap from Aaron Finch only minutes before news of the positive case emerged.

Meredith, who played in two of the five T20 games between the sides, had been selected in place of fellow paceman Wes Agar, who made his senior internationals debut in the first match of the ODI series, won by Australia.

This is the first time the coronavirus has affected Australia during a series, with the team having toured England and New Zealand without any problems. They also hosted India with success last summer.

Australian Associated Press