With the COVID-19 outbreak creating a chaos in Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is in line to host back-to-back Test matches in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar series. Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the development on Thursday while also stating that Sydney will get every opportunity to get the COVID-19 outbreak under control before they making a final decision on the venue for the third Test match.
The CA officials are on high alert in the wake of an outbreak of coronavirus in Sydney’s northern beaches and are working to plan for contingencies. One of the plans is to shift the third Test to Melbourne where the second Test is scheduled to start on Saturday (December 26). The intention behind the decision is to ensure that the Gabba remain the venue for the series finale from January 15.
Even though the situation in northern beaches of Sydney has improved, there are concerns after Queensland closed its border with New South Wales, which will mean players and broadcasting crews will not be able to travel from Sydney to Brisbane between the third and fourth Tests. Keeping the SCG Test as scheduled would put the Gabba Test in jeopardy, but moving between Melbourne and Brisbane would not – as things stand today – require any quarantine period. Thus the CA has decided to keep Melbourne as a backup venue for the third Test.
“We have always maintained that scheduling a full summer of cricket during a global pandemic would require agility, problem-solving and teamwork like never before,” Cricket Australia’s interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.
“We continue to place the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved as our number one priority. The record testing numbers and the drop in new community transmissions in NSW have provided cause for optimism, however if the situation in Sydney deteriorates, we have strong contingency plans in place,” he added.
Meanwhile, the MCG has not hosted a Test in January since 1990 when Australia beat Pakistan by 92 runs. The iconic venue has not hosted two Test matches in the one season since 1981. On the other hand, the SCG has not missed out on hosting an Australia Test match for an entire summer since the 1966-67 season.