The Big Bash League (BBL) 2021-22 is dealing with a COVID-19 issue after 12 Brisbane Heat players tested positive, leaving the club unable to field a side for tonight’s match against the Sydney Sixers.
The Heat, like the Melbourne Stars, has been forced to search for replacement players after the virus ravaged their roster, leaving them with fewer than half of their starting lineup for tonight’s game.
While the Heat’s match against the Melbourne Renegades on the Gold Coast has been postponed, Cricket Australia released a statement this afternoon stating that the Heat will face the Melbourne Renegades in Geelong tomorrow.
Fakhar Zaman, a Pakistani recruit, is now in Melbourne and is believed to be able to play among the few remaining Heat players who are free of the illness.
Heat players and staff are set to fly on a charter jet from the Gold Coast to Avalon Airport in Melbourne’s west tomorrow, with a number of club cricketers and fringe state players anticipated to flesh up their XI.
“In this instance, the decision to postpone tonight’s match was the only option available given the number of cases within the Heat squad and the inability to secure the required number of players fit to take the field,” league boss Alistair Dobson said.
Positive cases have already been recorded by more than half of the BBL clubs. The Renegades’ training session was cancelled this afternoon after one of their players returned a positive quick test result.
The Melbourne Stars have been hit the hardest, with club captain and league drawcard Glenn Maxwell becoming the team’s 13th player to test positive for the virus today.
In order to field a team for games against the Perth Scorchers (on Sunday) and the Renegades on consecutive days, the Stars had to turn to club cricketers and ignore state-contracted players.
Most Stars players who contracted the virus during the initial outbreak will be released from their mandatory seven-day isolation in the coming days, allowing players like Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, and Nathan Coulter-Nile to return to the team for their next match on Friday against the Adelaide Strikers.
That’s assuming those players have not only been cleared of the illness but are also healthy and ready to play at match intensity after a week in isolation.
The match between the Adelaide Strikers and the Hobart Hurricanes has been rescheduled for 7:15 p.m. AEDT tonight.