England coach Silverwood has COVID-19

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  • Chris Silverwood
    English Test and county cricketer (born 1975)

Pilloried captain Joe Root has been recast in the role of playing coach at the SCG, where England learned of head coach Chris Silverwood's COVID-19 diagnosis.

England's support staff have been depleted because of COVID-19 cases, with Silverwood, pace bowling coach Jon Lewis, spin mentor Jeetan Patel and strength and conditioning specialist Darren Veness all remaining in Melbourne.

Silverwood was initially ordered to isolate as a close contact of a family member.

But the tourists revealed on Sunday that Silverwood, who is expected to come under heavy pressure to keep his job after this series, has since tested positive.

"He will remain in isolation until January 8. Silverwood is asymptomatic and is fully vaccinated," the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said in a statement.

"He is expected to return to the England party in Hobart ahead of the fifth Ashes Test."

England's players have returned daily negative tests since losing the MCG Test on December 28.

The tourists' plans for Adam Hollioake, who is based on the Gold Coast, to help fill the coaching void were scuppered on Sunday after the former England one-day captain became a close contact to a positive case.

Yet another coronavirus-related scare at the SCG unfolded on Sunday, involving an asymptomatic local net bowler that was seemingly banished from England's training session.

Root, reeling from embarrassing loss at the MCG that handed Australia an unassailable 3-0 lead in this Ashes series, rolled up his sleeves and delivered throwdowns to out-of-form teammates.

Opener Zak Crawley, called into England's XI as one of their four changes for the Boxing Day Test, admitted the absence of Hollioake was a fresh blow to a skeleton support staff.

"An extra pair of hands is always helpful. We've had a lot of support staff missing," Crawley said.

"But the lads have all worked together today, we've tried to all help out.

"We've all pulled together and have pulled through."

Assistant coach Graham Thorpe has taken charge of the squad this week.

Nottinghamshire's Ant Botha and former England wicketkeeper James Foster, both on part-time consultancy contracts, are also on deck.

Nathan Lyon termed it an interesting development for Australia's besieged rivals.

"They're world-class players. At the end of the day, you've got a lot of experience in that change room," Lyon said.

"They'll prepare, they'll be ready to go."

Crawley noted it was up to England's players to ensure they prepared as well as possible for Wednesday's series resumption.

"Obviously every positive case is not a good thing. But we are only dealing with the facts at the moment and getting tested every day," he said.

"The doctors say we are in a good place to carry on and we have to back that."

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