Australian women’s cricket team captain Meg Lanning said it is devastating that ‘x-factor’ all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner will miss the first two World Cup games, including Saturday’s opener against England, after testing positive to Covid-19.
The Australian side has been in New Zealand preparing for the World Cup, which starts on Saturday, for several weeks.
Cricket Australia confirmed on Thursday morning that Gardner, 24, who has been a shining star in the warm-up matches, tested positive to Covid-19 on a Rapid Antigen Test and follow-up PCR test.
New Zealand health regulations mean the two-time T20 World Cup winner will have to isolate for 10 days – ruling her out of Saturday’s clash with England and the March 8 match against Pakistan.
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All other players and coaching staff have since returned negative test results.
Captain Meg Lanning said it was not ideal for Gardner or the team.
“(Gardner) is quite devastated at what has happened over the last 24 hours, but it is the situation we are all living with and there is always a possibility that we can get Covid-19,” Lanning said.
“We have all been doing as much as we can to avoid it and (Gardner) has done all the right things.”
Gardner proved she had come to play in the recent warm-up match against New Zealand, hitting 60 off 32 balls – including four sixes and six fours.
Lanning said there was no doubt it was a big loss for the team.
“She is a real x-factor for us and when she comes in it changes the game for us, whether that is with the bat, ball or in the field,” the captain said.
“It is disappointing that she will miss the first few games but we have to move on and work with that. A bonus is that everyone else is so far okay.”
Fresh off the Ashes series win the Aussie women have played their fair share of cricket against England in the lead up to Saturday’s opener.
“Tournament play is very different and what has happened in the past is really irrelevant,” Lanning said.
“We are looking forward to the clash with England, there is always a lot of passion and fire and this time around will be no different.”
Cricket Australia is yet to confirm who will step up to replace Gardner.
The team is due to travel to Hamilton on Thursday night ahead of Saturday’s World Cup opening round, which will start at noon (AEDT).