McDonald misses start of Sri Lanka tour with COVID-19

Australia’s head coach Andrew McDonald will miss at least the first game of the multi-format Sri Lanka tour after returning a positive COVID-19 test on Tuesday.

The touring party departs for Sri Lanka from Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon, but the senior assistant Michael Di Venuto will be left to take the reins for the time being, until McDonald has spent the mandatory seven days isolated.

Andrew McDonald.Credit:Getty

This means McDonald will be missing for the opening week of training and familiarisation, including white-ball captain Aaron Finch’s initial efforts to find some better rhythm and movement at the batting crease ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup later this year.

The Cricket Australia board signed off on Di Venuto’s temporary commission as acting head coach on Wednesday.

Australia’s first game of the tour, a Twenty20 against the hosts, takes place on Tuesday, June 7, with the second game scheduled for the following day. Players and staff spent several days last week in a pre-tour camp at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

“McDonald will isolate for seven days before departing for Sri Lanka,” said a CA spokesperson.

“Assistant coach Michael Di Venuto will coach the squad for the start of the T20 Series with McDonald due to arrive in Colombo before the second match. The T20 squad assembles in Colombo on Thursday for the first match next Tuesday.”

It’s McDonald’s first tour since his appointment as head coach to replace Justin Langer, after serving in the role in an interim capacity during the triumphant Test tour of Pakistan.

In the intervening months, McDonald and the team performance manager Ben Oliver have been able to flesh out a few holes in the support staff.

Key appointments included the former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori as a senior assistant, commencing in time for the two Tests against Sri Lanka that start in late July.

Andre Borovec, who previously worked with McDonald and Finch at the Melbourne Renegades, is on board as another assistant coach.

Sri Lanka will also be the first tour for the team’s new physio Nick Jones, formerly with Western Australia, and psychologist Mary Spillane, who has replaced Michael Lloyd.

Jones’ predecessor David Beakley was abruptly moved on before the Pakistan trip. That sequence of events forced CA into a confidential settlement after Beakley took legal action.

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