Cricket Australia is keenly monitoring the worrying growing Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches region ahead of the third Test against India. The third Test of the four-match series is scheduled to start on January 7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
But with less than 20 days remaining for the game, the COVID-19 outbreak has given Cricket Australia a big headache. The state governments are set to tighten their borders across the nation and force early contingency planning around the SCG Test next month.
According to ESPNcricinfo, David Warner, who is currently in Sydney continuing his recovery from the groin injury that ruled him out of the first Test, may be flown to Melbourne early to avoid any potential further border restrictions to Victoria. Not only that, commentator Brett Lee flew home to Sydney from Adelaide while three members of the SEN commentary team – Gavin Robertson, Brad Haddin and Matt White – left Adelaide too.
CA issued a directive to all media covering the Test match to report if they had visited the northern beaches region in the past three weeks. The area has reported 28 positive COVID-19 cases so far and reports suggest that the figure is likely to increase in the coming days.
The venue could be changed for the third Test if the situation deteriorates further. According to the report, CA have remained in constant dialogue with the Melbourne Cricket Club around ensuring a pitch is ready for playing back-to-back Tests at the MCG in the event of Sydney’s outbreak growing further.
At the same time, CA has decided against taking a quick decision. Their interim CEO Nick Hockley insisted that the board is ‘not panicking at all’ and also mentioned how CA saved the summer when the pizza-shop outbreak threatened to spoil the summer.
“We’re monitoring the situation; we’re not panicking at all, staying calm. Adelaide, a few weeks ago we had that pizza-shop outbreak and through that process we worked very calmly to get the players in Adelaide on a charter plane, out of Adelaide within 24 hours and that really saved the summer,” Hockley told SEN Radio.
“We’ve got the Sydney Test and the BBL in NSW after that, so the fact we’re here in Adelaide, we’ve got the next Test in Melbourne, it’s really watch, wait and see and I think the governments around the country have handled the pandemic so well, so we’ll watch, learn and stay in touch.
“If the game can be played safely [in Sydney] then we’ll play it there. That’s our starting point, so it’s working with the health authorities to ascertain that. We started out thinking how to play the full series as safely as possible, and we’ll take the same approach over the coming days and weeks. We’ve got contingency plans around a whole range of different options, and we’ve had to be agile all the way through. We were encouraged that it was 17 cases yesterday and ten today, and we’ll see how that plays out over the next 72 hours,” he added.
Both the teams are currently involved in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval. Prior to that, they had played the ODI and T20I series with Sydney hosting two ODIs and all the three T20Is.