Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Tahlia McGrath helps Australia to cricket gold despite testing positive for COVID-19

McGrath with her teammates and gold medal.
McGrath with her teammates and gold medal. Photo credit: Getty Images

Australia all-rounder Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play in the gold medal win over India in the Commonwealth Games women's T20 cricket final on Monday (NZ time) despite testing positive for COVID-19 only hours before the toss.

Australian officials explained that even though McGrath was positive and presenting mild symptoms, she was allowed to play, following consultation with team and match officials along with Commonwealth Games Federation Results Analysis Clinical Expert Group.

"McGrath presented to team management with mild symptoms on [Monday] and subsequently returned the positive test," said Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA). "She was named in the starting XI at the toss and the International Cricket Council (ICC) approved her participation in the final.

"In consultation with the CGF (Commonwealth Games Federation) and the ICC, Cricket Australia medical staff have implemented a range of comprehensive protocols which will be observed throughout the game and for post-match activity to minimise the risk of transmission to all players and officials.

McGrath isolates before going to bat.
McGrath isolates before going to bat. Photo credit: Getty Images

"The CGA has maintained a comprehensive COVID-19 risk mitigation strategy for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with testing protocols over and above those required by the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee."

The CGA did not outline what protocols were in place and would make no further comment.

"I think it was handled extremely well from Australia's point of view," said Beth Mooney, her gold medal hanging around her neck. "Having protocols in place and making sure everyone on the team was comfortable she was playing, they did all the right things.

"Obviously towards the toss it became a bit hairy there for a while but I think it's no different if someone playing and they've got a cold or flu.

"From my perspective the right decision was made and we just went out and played it.

"It wasn't something under our control - the people who are paid to make those decisions made them."

McGrath did not line up with her teammates during the national anthems. However, she came out to bat without wearing a face mask.

She was Australia's highest run-scorer in Birmingham coming into the final but against India she faced just four balls, before being dismissed for two.

When McGrath exited the field, she did not return to the dugout. She sat apart from her teammates.

"It was unusual but we have our doctor on tour and we were just listening to whatever she said," said Ashleigh Gardner. "She said it was safe for her to play, obviously we didn't mingle with her so we all felt like we were safe enough out there.

"It was just one of those things that was bound to happen to someone in this competition and unfortunately it was her."