England head coach Chris Silverwood has tested positive for COVID-19 during his team's dismal Ashes tour.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed Silverwood, who was already due to miss the fourth Test, had joined the number of positive cases in and around the team camp.

It emerged after the Melbourne Boxing Day Test that a member of Silverwood's family had tested positive.

That set up the possibility that Silverwood himself may have come into sufficiently close contact to be infected.

Silverwood was forced to isolate, ruling him out of the Sydney Cricket Ground clash with Australia, which begins Down Under on Wednesday. Now, a positive test means he must wait to rejoin the team.

England are expecting him to be available again to take the reins for the series closer in Hobart, starting on January 14. In the meantime, batting coach Graham Thorpe is stepping up to direct team operations.

In a widely reported statement, the ECB said: "England men's head coach Chris Silverwood has tested positive for COVID-19.

"Silverwood has been isolating in Melbourne since December 30 following a positive test from one of his family members. He will remain in isolation until January 8.

"Silverwood is asymptomatic and is fully vaccinated. He is expected to return to the England party in Hobart ahead of the fifth Ashes Test."

The news comes after England great Graham Gooch expressed dismay at England's inability to be competitive in Australia.

They have already lost the series, after suffering heavy defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, with Silverwood's position coming under scrutiny.

Speaking to Stats Perform, former captain and opener Gooch said: "I'm bitterly disappointed because losing a Test match is one thing, losing a series is one thing.

"But, what's really concerning for me is the lack of competitiveness of our team against Australia not only in the match at Melbourne, but in the previous two matches. 

"They've outplayed us, out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded us in all three Tests, in most of the sessions.

"We've had a couple of half sessions, which we've done well with Joe Root and Dawid Malan scoring a few runs, Jimmy Anderson bowling a brilliant spell to help England dismiss Australia at the MCG for 267. But apart from that, we've been lacking."

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon says there are no dead rubbers as Australia chases a 5-0 whitewash of England in the 2021-22 Ashes.

Australia leads the series 3-0 after three dominant victories ahead of the fourth Ashes Test starting on Wednesday at the SCG.

There has been speculation about the make-up of the Australian side given they have already secured a series victory with dilemmas on Josh Hazlewood's fitness and Scott Boland's place along with talk of a second spinner in Mitch Swepson.

Lyon, who has taken 12 wickets in the three Tests, insisted Australia were determined to pursue victory and pick the best side possible.

"There's no more dead rubbers - and I've never considered them when you wear a baggy green - firstly because there's the World Test Championship and we want to go 5-0 up," Lyon told reporters on Sunday.

"If the conditions suit then we pick the best team to win that Test to make sure we keep moving forward. The Ashes for me is the pinnacle but I'd love to be part of a Test Championship final to state our case for the number one team in the world."

Australia missed out on the World Test Championship final last year, finishing third behind winners New Zealand and India. The Aussies have won the past two Ashes on home soil 4-0 and 5-0 respectively.

Lyon endorsed fellow spinner Swepson, who is set to get Test opportunities in 2022 with tours of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India to come.

"I love bowling in partnership with spinners for sure," Lyon said. "I've done it a lot in subcontinent conditions so if the opportunity does come to play two spinners I know we'll really enjoy building that partnership. We've been doing it in the nets but it's a lot different."

Hazlewood, who has missed the past two Tests with a side injury, is expected to train fully with the group on Monday and could replace Boland who took 7-6 in the second innings of the third Test.

England star Jos Buttler insisted that he has no intentions to retire from Test cricket despite a crushing Ashes series loss to Australia.

Buttler declared he would play without fear ahead of his first red-ball series Down Under but has since mustered just 96 runs from the opening three outings, averaging just 19.2 against Pat Cummins' relentless bowling attack.

The wicketkeeper is not the only England batter to have struggled, given Chris Silverwood's side have already succumbed to a series defeat against Australia before a ball has even been bowled in the penultimate Test in Sydney.

After Quinton de Kock announced he was hanging up his South Africa whites to focus on his young family and limited-overs cricket, questions were raised whether the multi-format Buttler would follow suit and arrive at a similar conclusion.

But 31-year-old knocked back those suggestions on Saturday as he expressed his commitment to the longest form of the game, despite England's beleaguered Test team struggling recently.

He responded to reporters questioning his plans to continue playing red-ball cricket: "It's certainly my ambition. I don't think I'd have put as much into it as I have done if it wasn't.

"I have fantastic family support – they're very supportive of me and my career, and make a lot of sacrifices for that. It's certainly maintained my drive and ambition to try and play [Test cricket]."

 

He added: "That's Quinton's own personal situation. As a huge fan of his, I'm disappointed that he's at that stage. I love watching him bat, keep wicket and play Test cricket. 

"I commend him for making a decision that's right for him. But I feel I've got that support and in a place where I want to try to make it work."

Amid speculation over Silverwood's future following another thrashing to the old enemy Australia, Buttler and his team-mates now have the chance to prove their worth in the final two Tests in early January.

And Buttler reassured that all of the England camp are pulling in the same direction as they look to play for pride with their series out of their reach.

"One thing is we're massively in it all together," he continued. "We live it all together and we want to play well for each other. It's frustrating for Chris he's not here with us [due to COVID-19] – another complication of the tour – but we're certainly very united.

"There is an overriding sense of disappointment and frustration with the situation we've found ourselves in. We certainly don’t want to be a team to lose 5-0."

England have a chance to right some of their wrongs when they next challenge Australia on Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Only so much of the blame for England's poor Ashes series can lie with captain Joe Root, according to former skipper Graham Gooch.

Australia have already retained the Ashes with two Tests to spare, having established an unassailable 3-0 lead, dominating the opening three matches in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Root has been one of the only England batters to perform well, going on to become the leading run-scorer as the nation's Test captain, a role he has fulfilled since 2017.

He will lead England out for a record 60th time in the fourth Test in Sydney, overtaking Alastair Cook's tally of 59, while 26 per cent of all the team's runs were scored by Root in 2021, with the Yorkshireman plundering 1,708 in total.

However, England have averaged just 187.5 with the bat in six innings, failing to score more than 300 in any of the first three Tests down under, and Root's leadership abilities have come under scrutiny.

But after Chris Woakes backed the 31-year-old to stay on, Gooch has also offered his support to Root, but suggested the skipper may need to take a more realistic view on his team's scenario.

"I like Joe a lot. He's a brilliant player; a world-class player. He's not a bad captain; I don't think it’s his fault," Gooch, who scored 8,900 Test runs for England between 1975 and 1995, told Stats Perform.

"But to keep saying we’re close to Australia, that we can feel it coming, and one good session or one good day is going to turn it around. I don't think that’s going to wash really. We've been comprehensively beaten.

"I think it's a bit galling for us ex-pros and captains to hear."

Gooch, fourth on the all-time list for runs scored as England's Test captain, also paid tribute to the victorious Australia, whose strong displays he feels have played a major part in the tourists' slump.

Asked whether he believed the outcome of the Series was down to the hosts' performances or a poor showing by England, he said: "I think it's a bit of both.

"I think you've got Australia doing what they do best. They're aggressive, they're ruthless. If they smell blood, they capitalise on it.

"It's not because England have been so poor; they have not allowed England to be successful."

England's lack of competitiveness during the ongoing Ashes series is a cause for huge concern, according to former opening batsman Graham Gooch.

Australia have already retained the Ashes with two Tests to spare, having established an unassailable 3-0 lead.

The hosts have taken full advantage against their lacklustre opponents, dominating the opening three Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Gooch, who scored 8,900 Test runs for England between 1975 and 1995, expressed his disappointment with the visitors’ performances thus far.

And he feels it is the manner of the defeats sparks the biggest cause for concern.

"I'm bitterly disappointed because losing a Test match is one thing, losing a series is one thing," he told Stats Perform. 

"But, what's really concerning for me is the lack of competitiveness of our team against Australia not only in the match at Melbourne, but in the previous two matches. 

"They've outplayed us, out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded us in all three Tests, in most of the sessions. 

"We've had a couple of half sessions, which we've done well with Joe Root and Dawid Malan scoring a few runs, Jimmy Anderson bowling a brilliant spell to help England dismiss Australia at the MCG for 267. 

"But apart from that, we've been lacking."

Gooch also refused to point the finger of blame at squad selection, insisting England undoubtedly have the resources to produce the goods.

"I don't think you can argue with the selection as a squad. They've got the squad there," he added. "I can't see any glaring errors. 

"The only thing you possibly could do is you could revisit some of the players that you've had in the past and say: 'are they better than some of these younger ones?'

"You can never argue against putting youth in the team because that's your future if they come in, and they do quite well, hopefully you've got a player for, let's say, a decade."

Australian batsman Travis Head has been ruled out of the fourth Ashes Test and returning a positive test for Covid-19.

Cricket Australia confirmed that the 28-year-old is asymptomatic and will not fly with the squad to Sydney on Friday for the fourth Ashes Test due to start at the SCG on January 5.

The remainder of the Australian squad, their families and the team's support staff have undergone PCR and RAT tests on Friday and are still planning to travel to Sydney on Friday.

A Cricket Australia spokesperson said: “As part of our testing procedures, we are PCR testing players, their families and our support staff daily. Unfortunately, Travis returned a positive Covid-19 result earlier today. Thankfully, he is asymptomatic at this stage. We anticipate that he will be available to play in the fifth men’s Ashes Test in Hobart.

“We are grateful to our exceptional medical staff for all the work they have done throughout this series and we will continue to work with and support the players, their families and staff from both teams.”

Mitchell Marsh, Nic Maddinson and Josh Inglis have joined the Australian squad as additional cover as a precautionary measure, although Usman Khawaja appears most likely to replace Head in the XI.

On Friday, there was a huge jump in confirmed Covid-19 cases in Sydney, were the fourth Test will be played, with 21,151 infections diagnosed up from 12,226 on Thursday.

The Boxing Day Test earlier this week was jeopardized after positive cases within the England camp, while Third Test match referee David Boon tested positive on Thursday.

Australia captain Pat Cummins missed the second Test in Adelaide after being a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Head becomes the first player to miss a Test in the Ashes series due to testing positive as Covid-19 closes in on the series.

The Ashes series match referee David Boon has tested positive for COVID-19, Cricket Australia has confirmed.

Boon will now miss the fourth Test, starting on January 5, but is expected to return to take charge of the fifth Test nine days later.

The official is fully vaccinated – including a booster shot – and is asymptomatic. He will quarantine in Melbourne for 10 days before travelling to Hobart, where the final Test is set to be held.

Steve Bernard will serve as the referee in Boon's absence.

Boon is not the only person to miss out on the fourth Test, with England coach Chris Silverwood finding himself in the same position after a close contact contracted coronavirus.

There were four positive COVID-19 cases in the England camp on the second day of the third Test, but none of the players were affected.

Australia have already secured the Ashes, having won each of the first three Tests comfortably to move into an unassailable 3-0 series lead.

England coach Chris Silverwood will miss the fourth Ashes Test after a family member of the touring party tested positive for coronavirus.

Silverwood's position has come under question after England's dismal form in Australia, with the hosts having already retained the urn by racing into a 3-0 series lead.

Defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide were followed by a capitulation in Melbourne this week, with the third Test not even lasting three days.

Silverwood will be unable to be in attendance for the fourth match of the Tour in Sydney, as England desperately search for a result in order to avoid a whitewash.

A family member who travelled to Australia has tested positive for COVID-19 in the latest round of PCR tests administered to the touring party, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed.

Silverwood will therefore have to isolate for 10 days, along with his family, in Melbourne. Another round of PCR tests will take place on Thursday.

The fourth Test is due to start at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, with the series finishing in Hobart after coronavirus regulations in Western Australia meant Perth was unable to host the final match.

Chris Woakes has given his support to Joe Root amid growing calls for England's star batsman to step down as captain following a chastening Ashes defeat in Australia.

The hosts took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series after winning by an innings and 14 runs in the third Test at the MCG on Tuesday, skittling England for just 68 in their second innings, after which Root said it was "too soon to look at things."

The 30-year-old has been England's Test captain since 2017 after taking over from Sir Alastair Cook, and will lead his side out for a record 60th time in the fourth Test in Sydney, overtaking Cook's previous record of 59.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Woakes expressed his backing for Root, saying: "Joe is a great cricketer with a great cricket brain. Hopefully he can continue [as captain].

"We haven't been able to bat well around him. You'd expect us to probably put in a lot stronger performances than we have.

"I'm sure Joe will have many more years like he's already had and hopefully we can bat better around him."

England have averaged just 187.5 with the bat in six innings, failing to score more than 300 in any of the first three Tests down under.

Root has scored 1,708 runs in 2021, which equates to 26 per cent of his team's overall total, the highest proportion of any player for their respective team in Test cricket.

When asked if Root still has the backing of the team, Woakes said: "Absolutely."

The Warwickshire all-rounder was left out of the team for the third Test having taken a combined 3-228 with the ball in the first two Tests, although his batting average of 26.25 is England's third highest of the series behind only Root (42.16) and Dawid Malan (33.66).

The future of Chris Silverwood has also been called into question with the former England bowler winning just one of his last 12 Tests as coach.

"It's hard for us to focus on people," Woakes added when asked about Silverwood's position. "Who am I to talk about people's futures other than my own?"

Veteran Australian opener David Warner has set his sights on one last crack at the Ashes on English soil in 2023 as he looks to bury his demons from 2019.

The 35-year-old left-handed batsman has defied his age with the third most runs in this Ashes series after being Player of the Series as Australia lifted last month's T20 World Cup.

Warner was part of losing Australian touring Ashes parties in 2013 and 2015 and was tormented by Stuart Broad in 2019 when he was dismissed by the seamer seven times in 10 knocks, managing only 95 runs across the series which finished 2-2 with the visitors retaining the urn.

"James Anderson sets the benchmark for older guys these days, we look up to him getting on in our days," Warner told reporters.

"Winning the Ashes here was obviously a big one. We still haven't beaten India in India, that would be nice to do.

"And England away, we had a drawn series but hopefully if I manage to get that opportunity, I might think about going back."

The 89-Test veteran has scored 7,551 runs with 24 centuries but battled during the 2019 Ashes in England.

"In terms of 2019, it was obviously in England so he [Broad] was able to get the ball to come back into us and away from us," Warner said.

"For me it was one of those tours where I didn’t back my game plan and I went too defensive, and I didn’t attack. That was my fault, and he bowled really well.

"Out here, they have obviously picked Ollie Robinson for a reason ... he’s averaging 21 with the ball, he’s had some success in England, he bowls a good line and length. I wouldn’t say I was surprised, they’ve done it before in Australia.

"They haven’t played both of them [Broad and James Anderson] too often here – you might see him [Broad] play next game, and maybe Jimmy misses it. I can’t worry what they’re doing, but from our perspective I think it’s great he [Broad] is not playing."

Warner also backed under-pressure opening partner Marcus Harris who scored a game-high 76 in the third Test at the MCG after managing only 38 runs in his previous four innings.

“His courage to keep fighting and working ways out to score runs when bowlers are bowling good lines and lengths, he fought it out really well and I’m really pleased for him," Warner said.

West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell’s three wickets were not enough as his Melbourne Stars suffered their second straight loss, a 24-run defeat at the hands of the Hobart Hurricanes in their Australian Big Bash encounter at the Bellerive Oval.

Winning the toss and choosing to bat first, the Hurricanes romped to 180 for six with opener Ben McDermott top-scoring with 67 off 43 balls and captain Matthew Wade chipping in with 39 from 27 balls.

Russell was expensive at the start of his spell but pulled it back to finish with figures of 3-48 from his four overs.

Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile took 2 for 22 from his four overs.

Russell’s Stars were then limited to 156 for nine off their 20 overs despite Joe Clarke’s 52 and Hilton Cartwright’s 26 with Russell managing only 12.

Pacers Riley Meredith and Tom Rogers each took three wickets for the Hurricanes.

With three defeats in their first five outings, the Stars are now one from the bottom of the eight-team standings on seven points, while Hurricanes now lie third on ten points, seven adrift of leaders Perth Scorchers.

 

 

Chris Silverwood believes England can take "positives" out of a humiliating MCG thrashing that ensured Australia retained the Ashes less than halfway through the series.

Scott Boland claimed astonishing figures of 6-7 as the tourists capitulated to 68 all out in the morning session on day three, suffering a chastening innings-and-14 run defeat.

England needed a victory to have any chance of regaining the urn, but suffered a third hammering of what has been a painful series for Joe Root's side.

James Anderson had given them hope by taking 4-33 as were Australia bowled out for 267 on day two, but their batting frailties were exposed yet again on Tuesday.

Yet head coach Silverwood says it is not all doom and gloom for England and believes he still has the players' backing.

Asked if the players are stilt responding to him as head coach, Silverwood told BT Sport: "I think they are.

"We had a good honest chat after the last game [the defeat at the Adelaide Oval]. We just have to put performances together and start pushing back.

"It is disappointing for us all and the lads will be feeling that in the dressing room.

"But I have to give credit to Australia, particularly Scott Boland on debut and Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc for their opening spell last night.

"We had a good honest chat after the last Test, we just have to couple those performances together and find a way of pushing back against this bowling attack and scoring runs.

"Yesterday we had a little bit of disruption in the morning [a positive COVID-19 test in the team's family group] and I think the way the guys applied themselves on the field and the way the bowling attack rallied and got us back into this game was a credit to them.

"The way we caught in the last innings was good as well and I think there are positives coming out of this."

Silverwood believes England can salvage some pride in the remainder of a series that was over so soon after it started.

"We want to take something away from this series and we want to come back and compete in the last two Test matches," he added.

"We do have some world-class players and some youngsters as well who are learning on the job constantly. What we have to do is try and give them some confidence, we know they have ability and we do back them.

"We have to give them the opportunity to come out and show what they can do in the last two Tests."

Boland's figures were the best innings figures by any Australian on Test debut in Australia since Albert Trott took 8-43 against England at the Adelaide Oval in January 1895. 

Joe Root has refused to be drawn into the discussion around the state of English cricket despite Australia retaining the Ashes in record time and insists the series is not over.

England were humbled by an innings and 14 runs at the MCG on Tuesday as Australia claimed a series-clinching victory for an unassailable 3-0 Ashes lead.

Australia will now chase a 5-0 whitewash over England who were ripped apart inside an hour on the third day, bowled out for a meagre 68 which marked the nation's ninth-lowest Ashes score.

Despite the apparent gulf between the two sides and the disastrous nature of the MCG defeat, Root remained upbeat about achieving something out of the series ahead of Tests in Sydney and Hobart.

The situation has led to discussion around England's Test team and whether the County system is preparing players appropriately to compete at the elite level but Root would not be drawn on that.

"The series isn’t over yet," Root said at the post-game news conference. "We've got two very big games. It'd be wrong to look past that.

"As a player you talk about the next hour or the next session or the every next ball and managing that to be the best of your abilities, that applies to me as captain of this team.

"We have to make sure we come away from this tour with some better performances and a win or two."

Root added: "We need to put some pride back in to the badge. We need to give people back home something to celebrate and look fondly back on from this tour.

"It's bitterly disappointing to be 3-0 down but with two matches to go we have to make sure we come away with a couple of wins."

Root refused to use England's internal COVID-19 issues as an excuse for their ordinary third day display as they lost their remaining six wickets for 37 runs in 15.4 overs after resuming at 31-4.

The England skipper added that he felt his side had fought back on the second day with the ball, bowling Australia out for 267 to trail by 82 runs, but were unable to sustain their fight once again.

"I actually thought the way we went about our cricket on the field was excellent," Root told Fox Sports. "We put them under pressure and got ourselves in a position where we were very much in this Test match.

"We need to be more like that more frequently throughout the last two games."

He continued: "We've just got to do things for longer. There's been small pockets but nowhere near long enough to get into a Test match.

"We know the areas we need to improve on. We need to stay strong and make sure we use the next two Test matches as a real opportunity to take something away from this tour."

Debutant Scott Boland was "speechless" after his remarkable 7-6 spell locked in Australia's Ashes series victory over England with an emphatic win at the MCG.

Australia retained the Ashes by winning the third Test in Melbourne by an innings and 14 runs with right-arm fast bowler Boland making history in an astonishing spell.

Boland claimed four wickets in 11 balls on the third day, dismantling England's line-up as they were skittled for 68.

Australia clinched victory inside 81 minutes on the third day led by Boland's heroics, winning the game inside two days and one session.

"I'm speechless," Boland told Fox Sports after the game. "Coming in today I thought we had a pretty good chance of winning but never thought it'd be over before midday."

Boland, 32, had played 80 first-class matches prior to his Test debut, with his previous best-ever figures being 31-7.

"That's my best-ever figures," Boland said. "I got a couple of seven-fors in first-class cricket but nothing happened that quickly."

Boland, who was named Player of the Match, was fiercely supported by his home crowd, receiving wild applause every time he returned to the deep after each bowling over late on the second day and early on the third.

"They were amazing," he added. "They supported me so much from day one. Going down there just gives you a real big buzz."

Australia skipper Pat Cummins said Boland's success, having stepped up with Jhye Richardson, Michael Neser and Josh Hazlewood unavailable due to soreness or injuries, was a great sign for the hosts.

"It's a great sign for the health of Australian cricket we've got so many boys to pick from," Cummins said.

"Scotty came in, we were confident he'd do well, not quite this well, but we know whoever steps in is going to do a great job."

England only lasted 15.4 overs on the third day, with Australia retaining the Ashes within 13 days of cricket this series.

Australia lead all the key statistics, with the top four batting averages (Travis Head (62.0), David Warner (60.0), Mitchell Starc (58.5) and Marnus Labuschagne (57.25)) and top three leading wicket-takers (Starc (14), Nathan Lyon (12) and Cummins (10)) emphasising their dominance.

"I think we've been relentless with bat and ball when we've had to be," Cummins added. "The bowlers turned up and owned that good area around the top of off stump.

"The batters have really earned their runs. Some partnerships, Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey [Warner] have earned the right to bat long, they've left well.

"When opportunities presented they've been brave and taken on the game. All round everyone has contributed."

Australia can claim a 5-0 whitewash with victories in Sydney and Hobart in the remaining two Test matches.

"I think any Ashes series is where you try to make a mark in your Test career," Cummins said. "Back to last series 4-0 and the one before that was 5-0, that goes down in history.

"We've got a chance to start cementing our identity and [it] can be the start for the next few years."

Victorian debutant Scott Boland produced the spell of a lifetime as Australia secured an Ashes series victory with an emphatic triumph over England in the third Test at the MCG on Tuesday.

England were skittled for a feeble 68 as Australia clinched an unassailable 3-0 series lead with victory by an innings and 14 runs inside two days and one session.

Player of the Match Boland was the story of the third day, claiming four wickets in 11 deliveries including England skipper Joe Root to finish with remarkable second-innings figures of 7-6 from four overs.

Root offered the only resistance with 28, after the visitors resumed at 31-4 but wilted against a hungry Australian attack.

Mitchell Starc (29-3) got the first breakthrough of Ben Stokes bowled for 11, before Boland took over as England lost their final five wickets for eight runs.

Boland first trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for 5, despite a review, after he was dropped at gully by Cameron Green.

The debutant proceeded to claim the key wicket of Root caught by David Warner at first slip, before dismissing Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson for ducks.

Green claimed the final wicket to secure the series victory, clean bowling Jimmy Anderson to bowl England out for 68, their ninth lowest total in Ashes history.

England lasted only 15.4 overs on the third day, with the game being the shortest completed Test match hosted by Australia in 70 years, lasting 1084 balls.

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