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CWG: Why Australia's McGrath played final despite COVID-19

August 08, 2022 09:43 IST

IMAGE: Australia's Tahlia McGrath, left, celebrates with her team-mates after winning the gold medal match against India at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

There was a huge uproar after Australia cricketer Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play the T20 final against India at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Sunday despite testing positive for COVID-19.


The toss was delayed after news of McGrath's positive test came through but Australia still included her in the playing XI and the Indian team also had no objections.

Australia beat India by nine runs to win the Commonwealth Games women's T20 cricket gold medal. It was yet another achievement for the dominant Australians, who won the last two T20 World Cups in 2018 and 2020 and the 50-over World Cup earlier this year.

However, they came in for a lot of criticism for fielding Covid positive McGrath, who batted at No 4 scoring two runs, while bowling two overs for 24 runs.

"McGrath tested positive to Covid on the morning of the gold medal match in Birmingham, but was allowed to take the field due to the fact that she was only suffering from minor symptoms," said a news report on the International Cricket website.

IMAGE: Tahlia McGrath taps boots with Jess Jonassen after taking the catch to dismiss Shafali Verma. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

The Commonwealth Games Association explained that the cricketer was allowed to take part in the match after consultation with the International Cricket Council and the Cricket Australia's medical staff.

"Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) can confirm that cricketer Tahlia McGrath has returned a positive test for Covid-19," the Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) said in a statement.

"CGA clinical staff have consulted with the Commonwealth Games Federation RACEG (Results Analysis Clinical Expert Group) team and match officials, and McGrath is taking part in today’s final against India.

"McGrath presented to team management with mild symptoms on Sunday and subsequently returned the positive test. She was named in the starting XI at the toss and the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved her participation in the final.

"In consultation with the CGF and the ICC, CGA and Cricket Australia medical staff have implemented a range of comprehensive protocols which will be observed throughout the game and for post-match activity, to minimise the risk of transmission to all players and officials.

"The CGA has maintained a comprehensive Covid-19 risk mitigation strategy for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with testing protocols over and above those required by the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee."

IMAGE: Tahlia McGrath bats during the women's T20 cricket final against India at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The Birmingham Games' COVID-19 ruling states that it is up to every individual country to take a decision on positive cases in their camp.

McGrath sat separately in the stands wearing a mask, away from her team-mates when waiting for her turn to bat. She removed the mask when she came out to bat and also didn't wear the mask when fielding.

McGrath, who took the catch to dismiss Shafali Verma off the bowling of Ashleigh Gardner in the third over, and was maskless while in the field celebrated the dismissal by high-fiving teammate Jess Jonassen before they also tapped boots.

She did wear the mask after the match, to celebrate winning the gold medal win with her teammates, who were all maskless.

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said they agreed to allow McGrath to play in the 'sportsman's spirit'.

"They informed us before the toss. That was something not in our control because the Commonwealth has to take the decision. We were okay because she (McGrath) wasn't very ill, so we just decided to play. We had to show the sportsman's spirit. We're happy that we didn't say no to Tahlia because that (missing the final) would have been very hard-hitting for her," said Kaur after the match.

Australia opener Beth Mooney was unhappy as to why the news of McGrath's positive test was made public.

"It’s a real shame that in elite sport you get publicly shamed for having Covid when over here probably 90 per cent in this room have it right now," Mooney said.

"No one is testing, no one is doing anything. It’s a shame she couldn’t really celebrate with us. At the same time, I think the right decision was made in terms of letting her play given we’ve spoken about protocols and making sure we were trying to keep everyone safe throughout the game."

"Hopefully people aren’t too upset by it."