The Sydney test match is in danger of being relocated as the Northern Beaches COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread.
The New Years Test is the third of four in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and Cricket Australia are in the process of sorting out a back-up plan should New South Wales be unable to host their traditional test match.
The Daily Telegraph have reported that Cricket Australia have a few options should they be unable to stick to the original schedule and could very well take the test off the SCG and relocate it.
Perhaps Perth could host the 3rd test given they don’t have a scheduled match at this stage.
There is also the possibility Cricket Australia swap the third and fourth tests, allowing the Gabba to host the new years test match.
Cricket Australia interim chief Nick Hockley hasn’t given up on Sydney being able to host the third test as scheduled.
“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,” said Hockley.
“We have made no changes to our schedule and our preference remains to play the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
“It was less than a month ago that South Australians were contending with an outbreak o the virus in Adelaide and we have just completed a brilliant first Test at 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 time frames.”
The quick moving nature of COVID-19 means plans may not be finalised until the final moments.
It is entirely possible that either Melbourne or Brisbane host back-to-back tests, while Adelaide may be re-visited to complete the series should it be needed.
The BCCI were determined to avoid the Gabba for the series opener and it is seen as unlikely they will want to play there twice, especially with the Melbourne wicket expected to suit them much more then that hard surface in Brisbane.
Crowds are an issue also, with Sydney preparing for a full-house come the new year but that now appears an impossibility even if they are to host a test match.
While the MCG is able to host 30,000 people for Boxing Day, that sees nearly 70,000 seats unable to be used. An issue that would be somewhat eased should Melbourne host back-to-back tests.
With CA willing to give Sydney until the final minute to prove it’s able to safely host the test match there is still a real possibility that the SCG will be in use.
However the logistics of how players depart NSW and whether they will be required to quarantine in Queensland puts another cloud over the series.
CA believe their handling of the summer so far means they are in a good position to deal with the issue at hand.
“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 and Territory Associations, the Australian Cricketers Association, our partners and venues,” said Hockley.