Cricket Australia’s SCG, Gabba Tests facing challenge from COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches

Cricket Australia’s plans to roll out a trouble-free Test summer are now looking a lot more precarious after Sydney recorded an outbreak of 28 COVID-19 cases across yesterday and today.

The governing body had hoped for a capacity crowd for the SCG Test, set to begin on January 7, and had envisioned plenty of New South Wales residents making the trip to Queensland for a packed-out Gabba Test, scheduled to begin on January 15.

But the resurgence of the pandemic, primarily on the Northern Beaches, is such a concern that residents in the area have been urged to remain at home, while all states and territories have either announced more serious border restrictions or issued clear recommendations.

If the outbreak gets out of control, it could mean the SCG Test has a limited crowd, is postponed or, in the worst-case scenario, is even scrapped.

Cricket Australia’s outlook appeared promising when the SCG hosted the last limited-overs match of the summer at full capacity, with a flood of cricket fanatics filling the 48,000-seat venue for the third T20I.

Even the 50-per-cent capacity allowed for the ongoing Adelaide Oval Test is a dramatic improvement from the empty, eerie venues that hosted top-level Australian sport this year, such as NRL, AFL and A-League games.

Cricket Australia has this summer relied on Sydney venues to host WBBL, ODI and T20I matches, but the Northern Beaches breakout is now testing the governing body’s reliance on the NSW capital.

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