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News

New Zealand's Nicholls, Tickner, Jurgensen test positive for Covid-19

Warm-up game against Sussex to go ahead as scheduled

Henry Nicholls drives through the off side, New Zealand vs South Africa, 1st Test, Christchurch, 2nd day, February 18, 2022

Henry Nicholls has been a key part of New Zealand's Test side  •  Getty Images

Three members of New Zealand's touring party - fast bowler Blair Tickner, batter Henry Nicholls, and bowling coach Shane Jurgensen - have tested positive for Covid-19 in Brighton. All three have begun five days of hotel room isolation after producing positive Rapid Antigen Tests on Friday morning.
A media release from NZC confirmed that all other members of the New Zealand squad had tested negative, and that their four-day warm-up match against Sussex, between May 20 and 23, would go ahead as scheduled - although the first day was washed out by heavy rain*.
"They're all feeling okay, but unfortunately at the moment they've been struck down with the virus," New Zealand's head coach, Gary Stead, said. "All we try and do is minimise and mitigate the risk that's out there, we have protocols in place that we've been following, but I guess it's the nature of the virus that it's highly contagious."
As part of measures agreed with the ECB beforehand, New Zealand's players have been avoiding mass gatherings and events with a high risk of exposure, as well as wearing masks indoors with people outside of the environment and unable to social distance. The whole party will undergo further Covid testing for the next three days.
Nicholls, the left-handed middle-order player, has been a key part of New Zealand's Test side having made eight centuries in 46 matches with an average of 40.38. He, however, would have been unavailable to play the tour game in any case, having picked up a grade one calf strain while running drills during a pre-touring camp in Mount Maunganui earlier this month. While scans showed he had not suffered a tear, Nicholls is likely to miss both of New Zealand's warm-up games, and faces a race to be fit for the first Test, at Lord's on June 2.
Tickner is yet to play a Test, but has appeared in two ODIs and eight T20Is, most recently featuring in the ODI series at home against Netherlands.
Jurgensen, the former Queensland fast bowler, has worked as New Zealand's bowling coach since 2016, with his current deal running till the end of 2022. This is his second stint as the national team's bowling coach, having previously worked with New Zealand between 2008 and 2010.
After the game against Sussex, New Zealand are scheduled to play one more warm-up game, against FCC XI on May 26. The three-match Test series will begin on June 2, with the second Test in Nottingham on June 10, and the third being held at Headingley from June 23.
*15.30 BST - This story was updated with quotes from Gary Stead after play was abandoned for the day at Hove