Australia's one-day international (ODI) against New Zealand on Friday was played under strange circumstances and an early incident merely served to ram that fact home.
Cricket Australia acted early and barred fans from the ODI series against New Zealand due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Friday's match at the SCG representative of the new norm.
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A fan wearing a gas mask waited outside the SCG's locked gates and cameramen clapped in a bid to create atmosphere in Australia's first closed-door sporting event.
If those events seemed bizarre, then an early incident involving Aussie skipper Aaron Finch did little to usher in a sense of normality.
New Zealand looked to have snared Finch for three runs in just the third over of the match.
A loud noise could be heard as the skipper tried to dispatch a Trent Boult delivery to the boundary.
Kiwi keeper Tom Latham took the catch behind the stumps but to the disbelief of viewers, the umpire failed to give Finch his marching orders.
"That is out," Fox Sports commentator Mark Waugh said without a shred of doubt.
Waugh’s fellow commentators were equally as perplexed, labelling the non-decision “bizarre”.
Viewers were gobsmacked Finch wasn't given out and in even more disbelief that New Zealand didn't refer the decision to DRS.
Man that was out and was loud. Dunno how the ump didn't give that— Justin (@Justin45900432) March 13, 2020
The umpire needs to find another job— steven greer (@greerz49) March 13, 2020
So an empty stadium but still can't hear the nick? 🤔— 😶 (@okaySTFU007) March 13, 2020
Other viewers couldn't help but make light of the decision and the conditions the match was played under.
Despite the threat of coronavirus which had forced the match to be played behind closed doors, plenty of cricket fans chose to focus on the humorous side of the incident.
Crowd was too loud....— Matty J (@SoulRasher12345) March 13, 2020
Maybe no crowd celebration threw them off— McGregor | Lion 🦁 (@vLionMan) March 13, 2020
Thing is, if a batsman knicks it, but no one is actually there to see it.... Did it really happen? 😂😂🤔— Damien (@DamienBoath) March 13, 2020
Finch made the Kiwis live to regret the decision not to challenge his early nick, going on to make a half century in a solid start for the Aussies.
The Aussie skipper was eventually caught behind by Latham for 60 runs (off 75 balls) from the bowling of Mitchell Santner.
Australia were without quarantined quick Kane Richardson with a "mild sore throat", but even though officials were confident it was a mere infection his health status still lingered over the match.
Both captains still exchanged hand shakes at the toss, but interviews were done via the spidercam to ensure a two-metre buffer zone.
On the field, players at least tried to carry on as if it was business as usual after being told of the new measures late on Thursday night.
With reserves sitting in the Member's Pavilion watching on the Black Caps still shined the ball with sweat, as usual.
Mr Consistent does it again for Australia
But the reality was that all was not normal, with the exception of the increasingly ever-reliable Marnus Labuschagne.
The Aussie batsman’s remarkably consistent summer continued in an unusual setting, with another half-century guiding Australia to 7-258 in Sydney.
Labuschagne made 56 in a knock that only received acclaim from his teammates due to the empty nature of the SCG.
After a breakthrough Test schedule, the knock marked Labuschagne's eighth score of 50 or more in nine international innings at home this summer.
He was again busy, facing just 10 dot balls in his 52-ball knock as he regularly found ways to tick the strike over and find gaps in the field.
But it still wasn't enough to help Australia in the last 10 overs, as their late-innings problems continued.
They hit just two boundaries in the final 10 overs, and added just 64 in that period despite openers Aaron Finch and David Warner setting up what should have been a hard-hitting finish with a brisk stand worth 124-run.
Warner powered eight boundaries in his 67 from 88 balls, and didn't even realise he'd brought up his 50 when he pulled Ish Sodhi to square leg with no crowd present to applaud him.
However, he was visibly frustrated when he hit Lockie Ferguson to mid on, after mistiming a pull shot.
Finch was particularly aggressive, whacking two sixes in his 60 from 75 balls.
One six off legspinner Sodhi went deep into the vacant Bill O'Reilly Stand, leaving Ferguson to climb the fence to retrieve the ball.
"It's an unusual feeling out here," Finch admitted at the toss.
"When you turn up to the game and no-one is around it's unusual. But for us to play a game of cricket is nice still."
When the Australian captain was caught behind trying to drive spinner Mitchell Santner (2-34), the Black Caps managed to apply the brakes with Sodhi chipping away with 3-51.
Australia's decision to bat first followed revelations Kane Richardson had been ruled out with a mild sore throat and placed into quarantine given he had flown in from overseas in the past two weeks.
Cricket Australia medicos were confident the matter is only an infection and the quick will be able to return to the team shortly.
Crowds will be banned from the next two games in the series in Sydney and Hobart, and doubt also remains over a tour of New Zealand later this month given the government's non-essential travel warning.
‘An unprecedented public health issue’
Australia's women's tour of South Africa for next week has also been suspended, making it the first major cricket series affected.
"We have taken strong action today in the face of an unprecedented public health issue," CA boss Keith Roberts said.
"We believe this is the right decision to minimise the risk of public exposure to the coronavirus.
"We understand that these changes to our schedule will impact many, but we hope our community will understand that the public health and safety issues ... must take priority."
Roberts said cancelling the ODIs would have been "excessive" but there had been "apprehension" among players at the prospect of playing in front of large crowds.
That came especially after a spectator at last week's Women's T20 World Cup final was diagnosed with coronavirus.
He also defended the call to play that final in front of 86,174 fans but said it was a "learning experience".
Moving further forward the Indian Premier League is also in serious doubt, but Roberts said CA had not yet made any decisions regarding players' availability.
"We've all experienced in our work and general lives the last week a rapidly changing situation," he said.
"What that tells us is it would be premature to make decisions now based on what's happening in the coming months.
"We're being well briefed about experts and we'll keep making decisions in advance of each milestone."