Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Neil Rock has tested positive for COVID-19. Rock earned his maiden call-up to the Ireland squad for the upcoming T20I series against South Africa.
Following the development, Rock has been placed in isolation while 22-year-old Stephen Doheny, who is also uncapped, has been called-up as his replacement.
Cricket Ireland confirmed the development and released an official statement which read:
“Team management was informed of the positive result today, and Rock has been isolated from the squad as he awaits a follow-up test at the team hotel. Doheny, meanwhile, will undergo a COVID test this afternoon and – given a negative outcome – will join the squad tomorrow.”
The players and support staff who have come in contact with Rock will have to undergo testing as per the protocols.
Mark Rausa, Head of Sport Science, Physiotherapy and Medical Services for Cricket Ireland, informed:
“Due to our biosecurity measures and contact tracing, we are satisfied that we do not have any genuine close contact cases and this should therefore have minimal impact on the squad. However, out of an abundance of caution due to the proximity of the series start, we will test one player and one staff member who had confirmed they spent a short amount of time with Neil with correct COViD safe precautions in place. We expect them to test negative and re-join the squad tomorrow.”
“We do have match-winners in our team” – Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie
South Africa’s tour of Ireland will begin with the first match of the ODI series in Dublin on Sunday. Speaking ahead of the series, Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie admitted that the Proteas will be firm favorites.
He, however, asserted that Ireland do have match-winners who can make a difference. Speaking to the media, Balbirnie said:
“A lot of people on the outside will look at this and say there’s only one team winning this series, and that’s fair enough because it’s a really impressive South Africa side. I don’t have to keep harping on about how good a team they are – I think everyone knows there is a big gulf in the teams.”
“But we do have match-winners in our team. We showed that last year when we played England. We maybe haven’t got the results we’d want recently, but whenever we’re put in front of a really tough challenge, we tend to come out with something. The guys are going to go out and express themselves and hopefully can come out with a good result.”
The three-match ODI series between Ireland and South Africa will be followed by three T20Is, which will be played from July 20-25.