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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Will Macpherson

Commonwealth Games: Tahlia McGrath wins gold with Australia despite same-day positive Covid-19 test

Australian cricketer Tahlia McGrath won a Commonwealth Games gold medal on Sunday, despite testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the day.

McGrath took part in the gold medal match against India at Edgbaston following a positive test and last-minute discussions between authorities resulting in special measures that allowed her to play.

McGrath did not appear for the national anthems and she sat separately, and masked, from her team-mates while waiting to bat. But she did come out to bat at No4, unmasked (and held a conversation with her partner, Beth Mooney), and bowled as India fell 10 runs short of their target of 162.

It has become relatively common in cricket for players to be substituted during multi-day matches upon receipt of a positive Covid test.

In June, Ben Foakes was replaced by Sam Billings ahead of the fourth day of England men’s third Test against New Zealand at Headingley when he tested positive. Billings himself was recently subbed out of a county match for Kent when he contracted the virus.

This is an altogether different approach, however. The match got underway before confirmation that McGrath had tested positive, with Cricket Australia issuing a statement during the game.

“CA can confirm that cricketer Tahlia McGrath has returned a positive test for Covid-19,” read the 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.

Tahlia McGrath won gold with Australia at the Commonwealth Games despite having Covid (Getty Images)

“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.”

Across the Commonwealth Games, the participation of Covid-positive sportspeople has been assessed on a case-by-case basis, with factors such as likely infectiousness, illness and location of the sport (indoors or outdoors) considered.

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said her team were happy with the arrangement.

"They informed us before the toss," she said. "That was something not in our control because the Commonwealth has to take the decision. We were okay because she 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."

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