Australia’s star all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner has tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the Women’s Cricket World Cup and will miss the opening two matches, officials said Thursday.
Cricket Australia said Gardner, the 2021 Australian women’s cricketer of the year, was in isolation for 10 days in line with New Zealand health protocols.
She will miss Australia’s opening matches against England on Saturday and Pakistan next Tuesday, but could return for the fixture against New Zealand on March 13.
“All remaining Australian players and support staff have tested negative following subsequent RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests), and will proceed with existing plans,” CA said in a statement.
Australia have won the World Cup six times and are favourites for the one-day showcase in New Zealand, which begins Friday after a year’s delay because of pandemic travel restrictions.
The positive case comes amid a surge of coronavirus infections in New Zealand, which kept the virus at bay for much of the pandemic but now has the Omicron variant spreading rapidly in the community.
A record 23,183 cases were recorded on Thursday.
World Cup organisers have introduced a special rule for the tournament allowing Covid-affected teams to compete with only nine players if necessary.
There have been no other confirmed cases among the eight teams at the tournament.