As Prime Minister of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet deals with the fallout from record cases of coronavirus in the state and hour-long backlogs at test sites, a distraction was certainly welcome.
Fortunately for him, such a distraction was given when England capitulated well and truly on day three of the Boxing Day Test.
‘DO NOT KEEP IT’: England players are under fire over action after the match
INSANE: Scott Boland corresponds to a world record in historical test debut
The visitors lost the test, and thus the entire Ashes series, on Tuesday morning as they fell 3-0 to Australia thanks to some powerful bowling from debutant Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc.
Spectators at MCG experienced barely half a game before the Boxing Day test was completed and dusted off on day three.
The English players could be forgiven for being somewhat distracted as four coronavirus cases were picked up among the wider touring party, but none of the player group have been affected to date.
The Boxing Day test went ahead amid calls for the subsequent two tests scheduled for Sydney and Tasmania to be played in Melbourne to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.
However, those calls were emphatically ruled out when the match was over and both Cricket Australia and the NSW state government confirmed that the fourth Test would continue as planned in Sydney.
When he spoke to reporters in Wagga, the Prime Minister could not help but make fun of England’s gloomy tour.
“Any speculation that the Sydney Test match will not continue is completely untrue,” he said.
“The Sydney test is a highlight of our state’s calendar. It’s happening.
“I can not assure you how long it will last given what we have seen today, so try to get in on the first two days to see some action.”
After removing indoor mask mandates and QR check-in in NSW before Christmas, Mr Perrottet had to reintroduce the measures amid a record-breaking leap into new infections.
A total of 6062 new cases were registered on Tuesday, of which 60 are now in intensive care units.
Sir. Perrottet had previously defended the easing of restrictions before Christmas, saying the use of masks was a matter of ‘personal responsibility’.
England on their way to the worst Ashes tour
Joe Root’s chaotic outfit is on its way to Ashe’s disgrace, on its way to becoming just the fourth English side of the story to suffer a series of laundered Down Under.
Something drastic would have to change on the pitch – or perhaps even the intervention of further virus-related chaos outside – in order for England to avoid the same fate that befell the tournament teams in 1920-21, 2006-07 and 2013-14.
In the past, they have at least been in the competition, where Australia’s best test outfit achieved an unlikely victory in Adelaide in 2006-07.
In 2013-14, England were in every Test before Brad Haddin often dug the hosts out of several holes.
But this time, there are few excuses for an English team that is 3-0 down after an extensive round and 14-run beating at MCG.
To put it bluntly, the 68 tourists all out on Tuesday summed up a horror three weeks since the start of the Gabba test.
This means that the current series has been settled within 12 days of cricket – the fastest Australia has kept the urn since 2002-03 – and the hosts have now sealed the ashes within three tests in eight of the last nine home series.
“I’m completely exhausted,” said English captain Root.
“We are bitterly disappointed to find ourselves in this position.
“There are two test matches left and we have to try to make sure we get away from this tour with a few wins.
“They have clearly outplayed us in the three matches. We have not been good enough.”
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