On the eve of their must-win Group 1 match against England in Super 12 of Men's T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, hosts and defending champions Australia have been dealt a huge blow with wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade testing positive for Covid-19.
The 34-year-old Wade, the sole keeper in the 15-man squad, now becomes the second Australian player to contract the virus after leg-spinner Adam Zampa when he returned a positive test result on Wednesday night, says a report by cricket.com.au.
"Wade is believed to be suffering only minor symptoms and, unless his condition deteriorates, is still expected to feature in Friday's high-stakes match against England at the MCG," said the report.Australia captain Aaron Finch had previously suggested veteran opener David Warner would likely stand in behind the stumps should Wade be absent from keeping duties, as reserve keeper Josh Inglis was ruled out of the competition due to a freak hand injury and was replaced by Cameron Green in the 15-man squad.
Incidentally, Finch himself has kept wickets as a fill-in option during the BBL level. During Australia's practice session at Junction Oval ahead of their showdown against England, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was seen putting wicketkeeping gloves on and doing drills with assistant coach Andre Borovec, a former first-grade gloveman.
The report also said that though Australia are confident of Wade being healthy enough to play Friday's match at MCG, they have a concern over stopping the virus from being spread in the team, as Zampa missed Tuesday's match at Perth, where Australia won over Sri Lanka.
According to the rules of the tournament, T20 World Cup rules permit players who have tested positive to continue playing. However, Wade will need to travel to the ground separately from the rest of the squad and will not be able to use the team changeroom before or during the game.
Zampa, on the other hand, could be available for Friday's crucial match. "Zampa meanwhile has returned multiple negative tests in recent days and was bowling in the nets at the Junction on Thursday in a strong sign he will be right to resume his place in Australia's XI," concluded the report.