Sport Cricket COVID hobbles England’s Ashes squad every which way
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COVID hobbles England’s Ashes squad every which way

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Australia's attack has punished England on the pitch while COVID does likewise off it. Photo: Getty
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England will prepare for the fourth Ashes Test with a skeleton coaching staff after plans to draft in Adam Hollioake were scuppered by COVID-19.

The former England one-day captain, who lives on the Gold Coast, had been asked to join the tourists in Sydney ahead of the SCG clash starting on Wednesday after an outbreak of the virus left England short of backroom staff.

But, while both parties were keen, a close contact of Hollioake has subsequently tested positive and he is unable to take up the offer.

The 50-year-old had been due to work with players outdoors only, but with any further spread potentially putting the last two Tests of the series in doubt, there are tight restrictions on those allowed to join the team environment.

England head coach Chris Silverwood is chief among the absentees, isolating with a family member in Melbourne, while pace bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness have also tested positive.

That leaves assistant coach Graham Thorpe in charge of the squad this week. He is supported by Nottinghamshire’s Ant Botha and former England wicketkeeper James Foster, but both men are only on part-time consultancy contracts.

-AAP