COVID may derail women’s Ashes, World Cup
Australia and England have been warned players contracting COVID at the end of the women’s Ashes won’t be allowed at the World Cup.
The Australian squad is set to be announced for the Ashes early next week, with players then entering a seven-day isolation period before going into camp on January 17.
They will take part in the multi-format series before leaving for a 10-day quarantine period in New Zealand just days later.
But the threat of COVID-19 looms large, with officials told late additions to the travelling squad won’t be allowed.
‘It’s going to be tough,’ chief selector Shawn Flegler said.
‘That’s why we’re trying to put protocols in place to minimise any issues with COVID.
‘But as we’ve seen over the last few weeks, with BBL and other competitions, it can be very difficult.’
Four matches of the Women’s National Cricket League scheduled for this weekend have already been postponed, with Flegler refusing to say whether any players in the expected squads were already affected by COVID.
‘There’s a few things that we’re working through, that’s for sure,’ said Flegler.
‘The way that we’re looking at it is we have to be prepared that there’ll be players that will miss games.
‘The strength that we do have is we’ve got a number of players who could come in and take the place of someone who does have COVID.’
Selected players are likely to be told they cannot leave the house except for essential reasons from next week, while the Australia and Australia A squads will be split up to minimise risk of outbreaks in both squads.
Flegler said the nature of back-to-back tournaments meant the women would face tighter restrictions than the men.
‘They are certainly tighter absolutely,’ Flegler said.
‘We need to keep in mind England as well. Their focus is on the Ashes but also on defending the World Cup title.
‘If we do have to tighten things down towards the back end of the series, we will look to do that.
‘We’re trying to balance that with making sure that our players and staff can try and live with some sort of normality.’
Australia’s biggest selection headache will come in the spin department with Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham both injured.
While Jess Jonassen returns after missing the India series, selectors will weigh up whether to recall Amanda-Jade Wellington or fellow leggie Alana King.