Cloud over Boxing Day Test amid Victorian virus outbreak

Andrew Reid
·3-min read
Pictured here, Steve Smith and a wide shot of the MCG on Boxing Day.
Victoria's virus crisis has cast doubt on whether the MCG will host the Boxing Day Test. Pic: Getty

Decades of cricket history could be set to come to an end this year, with fears the coronavirus crisis in Victoria could see the Boxing Day Test moved.

Not since 1989 has a Test involving Australia not been held at the iconic venue - that blip only coming because the MCG hosted a one-day International against Sri Lanka instead.

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However, with Victoria ravaged by record COVID-19 cases and the state's death toll now at 170, Cricket Australia is understood to be seriously considering contingency plans.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that "CA chairman Earl Eddings has called for an urgent and rare convening of the national cricket cabinet next week" to discuss the summer plans.

Citing a senior CA official, the report says current border restrictions would make it virtually impossible to keep the schedule in tact, as it stands.

CA warned that its schedule could change when it was first released in May, with Adelaide Oval looming as a possible alternative to the MCG for the Boxing Day Test against India.

The idea of the Test against powerhouse India being played behind closed doors at the MCG could force CA's hand when it comes to deciding on an alternative venue.

Seen here, India captain Virat Kohli embraces Australia counterpart Tim Paine.
Australia and India are set to play a four-Test match series starting in December. Pic: Getty

If Adelaide were to be awarded the Boxing Day Test it would spark a chaotic scheduling reshuffle, with Perth likely to pick up a Test match and Hobart expected to host the one-off Test against Afghanistan in November.

The newly released IPL schedule has also put that historic Test under a cloud, with players from Australia and Afghanistan involved in the Indian domestic T20 competition.

Under virus regulations, those players would have to quarantine in Australia for 14-days before being able to play.

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CA has already postponed a home Twenty20 series against West Indies as it moves closer to getting the green light for next month's limited-overs tour of England.

The Aaron Finch captained Australians were slated to play West Indies in matches on October 4, 6 and 9 as part of their preparation for the T20 World Cup.

The postponement of that World Cup has prompted the international schedule to be overhauled with the most notable change being that the Indian Premier League, which will now run from September 19 until November 10 in the UAE.

CA and the West Indies Cricket Board have agreed to delay this year's T20 series, wanting it to coincide with the rescheduled T20 World Cup in Australia either 2021 or 2022.

The Australians are still scheduled to face India in a T20 series from October 11-17, but that series will also have to be shifted given it now falls in the middle of the IPL.

Justin Langer's team hasn't taken the field since the trans-Tasman ODI at the SCG on March 13.

The team and support staff are expected to board a charter flight later this month and start a tour of England on September 4, playing three T20s and three ODIs.

They will follow the same biosecurity protocols used throughout the recent England-West Indies series.

CA has been locked in discussions with all levels of government in Australia since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governing body, which has already named a 26-man squad for the proposed series in England, wants state-government exemptions to be ticked off before signing off on the UK tour.

with AAP