Cricket Australia responds to calls to move fourth Test from Sydney

Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley, pictured here responding after calls to move the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests.
Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has responded after calls to move the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests. Image: Getty

Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley has responded to calls to move the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests away from Sydney and Hobart respectively.

Cricket Australia is breathing a huge sigh of relief after all players from Australia and England returned negative tests to Covid-19 on Tuesday morning.

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Just hours after four non-playing members of England's camp tested positive to the virus via rapid test, all players were sent for PCRs after play on day two of the third Test in Melbourne.

The outcome of those tests left CA sweating on not only the remainder of the Boxing Day Test, but the rest of the Ashes series as a whole.

But they were given the best possible news on Tuesday morning, allowing day three to go ahead as scheduled at the MCG.

However questions still remain over the rest of the series, and the flow-on effect the scare could have for scheduling.

There have been calls to play the remainder of the series in Victoria, where close contacts of cases must only isolate until they return a negative test result.

NSW and Tasmania currently do not allow the same freedoms for close contacts, forcing them to isolate for seven days - a potential concern for the fourth and fifth Tests.

NSW also continues to average beyond 6000 cases per day, but the definition of a close contact is not as tight and there is every chance close contact rules could change in coming days.

There is some suggestion NSW could soon adopt the same negative-test approach as Victoria to ease the strain of health staff isolating on a system under pressure.

The large crowd, pictured here during day one of the Third Ashes Test at the MCG.
A general view of the large crowd during day one of the Third Ashes Test at the MCG. (Photo by Darrian Traynor - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Cricket Australia responds to calls to move remaining Tests

Cricket Australia is banking on having booked out an entire hotel in Sydney's Double Bay to safeguard players from both teams for the fourth Test.

Tasmania also have strict rules for close contacts, similar to those in South Australia where Pat Cummins was wiped out of the second Test for dining near a confirmed case.

But CA remain adamant that they want to follow the schedule as planned, and can work closely with governments to deliver it.

“We just need to remain calm and get the facts,” Hockley told reporters on Monday.

“Everyone needs to follow the medical advice. On that basis, we keep going. We’ve been working on the plans for this tour for over six months.

“Our protocols are designed for absolutely this set of events. We’ve got strong protocols. We’ve got very comprehensive testing regimes.”

Asked if he had confidence the fourth Test would go ahead in Sydney, Hockley said: “That’s absolutely the plan and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise. It’s a day-by-day proposition.”

Michael Vaughan says Cricket Australia must 'act quickly'

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was among those to suggest the series should stay in Victoria for the remaining Tests.

“Could the next Test be played here in Melbourne under lights at the MCG on January 5 to stay in Victoria where the protocols are different to Sydney?" he said on Fox Cricket.

"Do we want to risk taking two teams over and broadcast crews and production staff? Then you get to the SCG and there’s one case in the team on day one and the Test match is off.

“Surely CA have to be proactive … there’s the possibility that the Covid positive could spread around the side and so I think CA have to act quite quickly.

“Under the lights here at the MCG could be a real possibility.”

Sydneysiders, pictured here being tested for Covid-19 at the airport.
NSW continues to register over 6000 cases per day. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

Australia have so far managed to get almost all matches played on home soil since the start of Covid-19 through its protocols.

Only one Test has been postponed - against Afghanistan last summer - and a one-day series against New Zealand was also called off when Covid-19 first surfaced mid-series.

"We've seen through the last 18 months (we can get games on)," Hockley said.

"I have to say I am so proud of the work of everybody involved, in particular thank the players but also the governments and health departments across the country.

"We're having to learn to live with this."

with AAP

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