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Cummins out of 2nd Ashes test because of COVID-19 exposure

December 16, 2021 GMT
Australia's Pat Cummins prepares to bowl during day three of the first Ashes cricket test at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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Australia's Pat Cummins prepares to bowl during day three of the first Ashes cricket test at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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Australia's Pat Cummins prepares to bowl during day three of the first Ashes cricket test at the Gabba in Brisbane, Australia, Friday, Dec. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Australia captain Pat Cummins will not play in the second Ashes test against England after being deemed a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19.

Less than three hours before the toss for the day-night test at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, Cricket Australia said in a statement that Cummins had been exposed to the COVID-19 case when he was dining in a restaurant the previous night and he hadn’t breached any biosecurity protocols.

Cummins isolated as soon as he became aware of the situation and has since had a COVID-19 test, which was negative.

Cricket Australia said South Australia (state) Health confirmed that Cummins was a close contact and will be required to isolate for seven days. It said Cummins should be available for the third test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting Dec. 26.

Steve Smith will return as Australia’s test captain for the first time since being deposed in 2018, and Michael Neser will make his test debut in the pace attack in place of fast bowler Cummins.

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“Gutted to miss this test but really excited to see Neser finally get his chance in the baggy green,” Cummins said in a Twitter post. “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!”

It will be Smith’s first appearance as captain since the Cape Town, South Africa ball-tampering scandal in 2018 which cost him the captaincy and a subsequent two-year leadership ban as well as a 12-month suspension from representing Australia.

Cricket Australia said fellow Australia bowlers Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were dining at the same restaurant as Cummins but at a separate table outdoors. SA Health said Starc and Lyon were casual contacts and they are free to play.

Cummins’ absence along with that of injured Josh Hazlewood is a big blow to Australia after opening the series with a nine-wicket win in Brisbane.

Adelaide has had a rise in COVID-19 cases over the past week, with the 25 reported on Wednesday, the most in a single day in the city in more than 18 months.

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