The Sydney Cricket Ground could host two Australia-India Test matches, rather than one or none, under a plan being considered by Cricket Australia in the wake of the New South Wales COVID-19 outbreak. In a bid to save its New Year fixture, the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust has also offered to host the Brisbane Test if the Queensland government refuse to grant exemptions to the teams returning from New South Wales.
Earlier this month, the CA was put on high alert after an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the northern beaches in Sydney, which is scheduled to host the third Test from January 7. The outbreak is threatening to spoil the Australian summer as CA officials are scrambling to put alternatives in place in order to ensure that all the four Tests are played. The Boxing Day match in Melbourne will go ahead but the schedule after that is up in the air.
Even though the situation in northern beaches has improved, there are concerns that Queensland may close 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. Under the prevailing circumstances, Melbourne has emerged as the frontrunner to host the third Test as well. However, CA has asserted that the SCG remains its preferred venue for the third Test.
“We can run two Tests if necessary, no problems at all,” Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust chairman Tony Shepherd told ‘The Age’.
“We’ve made it very clear to Cricket Australia we’re flexible and would be very, very disappointed to lose the Sydney Test. And that’s with the support of the NSW government,” Shepherd added.
Earlier this year, NSW had come to CA’s aid in October when, after lengthy discussions and negotiations, the Queensland’s health department denied the cricket body’s request to allow Indian and Australian players returning from the IPL to train while serving their 14-day quarantine.
“Sydney saved the day, the NSW government supported it, NSW is the cricket centre of Australia in terms of participation, players at the elite end and at community level. We have the biggest Indian diaspora in Australia,” Shepherd said.
“The SCG is the most historic ground in Australia, second-most historic ground in the world. It’s a special place. The NSW government is very supportive of having the game, and will do everything we can to have it as a success,” Shepherd added.
The report further quoted a Queensland government source as saying that they are holding discussions with CA but hinted that the state will not review its border closure to Greater Sydney until January 8. In such a scenario, it would not be very surprising if CA are compelled to change the venue.
“Our priority is keeping Queenslanders safe and keeping transmission out of our community,” the spokesperson said.
“We have been able to relax internal restrictions sooner than other states because we have been cautious with our borders. Sport and recreation and Cricket Australia are currently in discussions with the Queensland government,” added the spokesperson.