Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak has caused Cricket Australia to weigh up moving the New Year’s Test to Melbourne or Brisbane in a fixture re-shuffle.
The SCG’s plans to host the traditional New Year’s fixture have been thrown into turmoil in recent days with states progressively closing their borders to New South Wales after the Northern Beaches cluster.
CA’s coronavirus working group was to meet on Sunday to discuss the prospect of moving the third Test of the India series.
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According to a Daily Telegraph report, back-to-back Tests at the MCG is looming as a potential option due to being easier for broadcasters to manage.
“Broadcast sources believe the prospect of the MCG hosting the Boxing Day Test and then being turned around for a New Year’s Test on January 7 is a real possibility,” the report read.
“It would certainly help the broadcast partners Fox Cricket and Channel 7 because the networks would be set-up and wouldn’t need to shift to another location.”
Another option for Cricket Australia is to move the January 7 Test to Brisbane before playing the fourth Test in Sydney.
“According to CA, the leading option was still to play the match from January 7 to 11 in Sydney but if not, swapping the third and fourth Tests between Sydney and Brisbane was the top alternative,” a Sydney Morning Herald report read.
“The reason that option has been identified as the best back-up plan is to allow for the Australian and Indian teams, and television broadcast crews, to cross borders more easily.
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“If the growing cluster in Sydney prompted the Queensland government to close its border to people from the city, it could make it impossible to travel north from Sydney to Brisbane for the fourth Test.”
CA responded to the reports by issuing a statement on Sunday.
CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley said plan A was still to host the Test at the SCG.
“The third Test is more than two-and-a-half weeks away, which provides us with time to assess the evolving public health situation on the northern beaches of Sydney,” Hockley said.
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“We have made no changes to our schedule and our preference remains to play the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“Cricket Australia has developed a solid track record of delivery throughout this most challenging of summers and will continue to make appropriate and proportionate decisions in consultation with our biosecurity team, governments, State & Territory Associations, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, our partners and venues.
“CA has prepared for the possibility of COVID-19 hotspots and state border closures over the course of the summer and the protocols that we have put in place have been effective in ensuring the safety and success of the men’s and women’s domestic and international programs to date.
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“It was less than a month ago that South Australians were contending with an outbreak of the virus in Adelaide and we have just completed a brilliant first Test at the Adelaide Oval. We faced similar issues in relation to the Melbourne Cricket Ground playing host to the Boxing Day Test and we are now less than a week away from welcoming back Victorian crowds after a difficult year for the state.
“We will continue to work closely with all relevant parties to make the right decisions in the appropriate timeframes.”