The withdrawal of Pat Cummins has thrown the Australian side into disarray, and the Barmy Army have responded to an online rumour.
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The shock withdrawal of Australian captain Pat Cummins has forced a domino effect of changes within the Test side ahead of the pink-ball contest against England.
On Thursday morning, Cricket Australia confirmed that Cummins had been deemed a close contact of a person who had tested positive to Covid-19. The 28-year-old will subsequently be required to isolate for seven days.
Australian captain Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat first at Adelaide Oval.
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The battle we’ve all been waiting for
The second Test is underway, and it only took one over before Stuart Broad got his first look at David Warner, who is nursing a rib injury he sustained in Brisbane.
Broad terrorised the Australian opener during the 2019 Ashes, dismissing the left-hander on seven occasions in the five-match series.
And the veteran seamer thought he had his man straight away, trapping Warner on the leg with his first delivery of the series.
The umpire was unmoved at the non-striker’s end, and England captain Joe Root elected not to call for the review. Replays suggested the ball would have bounced over the stumps.
Stump mics captured the moment Broad asked Warner: “What guard are you taking? Still batting on off stump?”
Soon after in the sixth over of the day, Broad struck Marcus Harris on the pad and the umpire on this occasion raised the dreaded finger.
The Australian opener called for the review, and Hawkeye replays suggested the Kookaburra would have missed leg stump.
Harris lived to survive another day.
Barmy Army’s classy response to Cummins rumour
After it was confirmed that Cummins would miss the second Test, internet sleuths set about uncovering the identity of the person who had tested positive to Covid-19.
Some cricket fans theorised that the Barmy Army had planted a Covid-19 positive person in the restaurant next to Cummins to cause disarray in the Australian camp.
But the Barmy Army were quick to laugh off the rumour, offering their best wishes to the Australian Test captain.
“Stay safe Pat, see you in Melbourne,” they posted on Twitter.
Meanwhile, veteran seamer Stuart Broad has been presented his 150th Test cap, meaning he will play in the day-night Test.
England will play a five-man pace attack for the Adelaide Test, with Broad and James Anderson replacing Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach in the starting XI.
Neser the big winner as Test debut finally arrives
Steve Smith will captain the Australian Test side for the first time since the infamous ball-tampering saga in Cape Town nearly four years ago while Travis Head, who was not in the Australian starting XI two Test matches ago, will serve as vice-captain.
Queensland seamer Michael Neser will make his Test debut at Adelaide Oval, replacing Cummins in the starting XI for the pink-ball fixture.
Neser has been on the verge of a Test debut for several years since he was named in the Australian squad for a two-match tour of the United Arab Emirates in 2018.
He has been 12th man on 16 occasions and was the only member of the Test squad not to feature in the 2019 Ashes series, where the Australians employed a rotation policy for its bowlers.
On Wednesday, national selectors elected for West Australian seamer Jhye Richardson to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood.
Neser had days earlier claimed impressive match figures of 7/65 against the England Lions, but it wasn’t enough to force his way into the starting XI.
But after years of patiently waiting on the sidelines, it took an eleventh-hour Covid-19 scare for Neser to finally get an opportunity at Test level.
“Gutted to miss this Test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green,” Cummins tweeted on Thursday morning.
“He has done the hard yards and is a seriously skilful player. Super frustrating but Covid has thrown us all some curve balls over the last couple of years. Will be cheering along!”
ABC’s Chris Rowbottom reported that Victorian quick Scott Boland had been rushed to Adelaide and will be on standby, although he is expected to serve as 12th man.
This will be third consecutive Test match that Australia has used a different captain, the first time it has happened since 1956/57.
‘Very lucky’: Covid-19 scare could have been so much worse
The Australian cricket team could consider itself lucky that Cummins was the only casualty of Thursday morning’s Covid-19 saga.
As revealed by Cricket Australia, bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were dining at the same restaurant as the Test captain on Wednesday evening.
The duo were dining at a separate table that was outdoors, and SA Health therefore deemed them to be casual contacts, rather than close contacts. Starc and Lyon were therefore free to play in the Adelaide Test.
Speaking on SEN, cricket reporter Peter Lalor said the Australians were “very lucky” Starc and Lyon would be able to play.
Australian XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith (c), Travis Head (vc), Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon
England XI: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes
Originally published as Live: Barmy Army responds to Pat Cummins ‘accusations’