Major gamble as Sydney Test fate decided amid virus outbreak

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Indian captain Viart Kohli (pictured left) shakes hands with Australian captain Tim Paine (pictured right) at the SCG. (Getty Images)
Indian captain Viart Kohli (pictured left) shakes hands with Australian captain Tim Paine (pictured right) at the SCG. (Getty Images)

Australia and India players are likely to end the summer in strict biosecurity conditions after it was confirmed the third Test would be played in Sydney.

Cricket Australia's board emerged from a lengthy meeting on Tuesday night, with interim chief executive Nick Hockley able to press ahead with plans to play at the SCG from January 7.

‘DISAPPOINTING’: Australian captain slams 'frustrating' DRS

GET IT RIGHT: Call for key change after Australia’s Boxing Day Test loss

That in itself appeared unlikely for much of the past week amid ongoing discussions as NSW tried to contain its COVID-19 outbreak.

The crucial development came late on Tuesday night, when Queensland granted approval for players and officials to cross the closed border for the fourth Test in Brisbane.

But that still won't come easy.

Players have been granted some freedoms over the summer and it's yet to be revealed how those will be impacted in Sydney.

In Queensland it is almost certain to be far stricter unless their current stance on greater Sydney changes.

The Queensland Government has imposed tough conditions on teams travelling from hotspots all year, requiring them to lockdown when they're not training or playing.

Hockley was confident that both the Sydney and Brisbane matches would play out in a safe and successful way.

"We are very grateful to the New South Wales and Queensland Governments for their willingness to work with us to deliver the series as planned," he said.

A general view during the Dettol T20 Series cricket match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on December 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
A general view during the Dettol T20 Series cricket match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on December 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"(And) in a manner that places the safety and wellbeing of the players, officials, staff and the wider community as its top priority.

"In response to the public health situation in NSW and the requirements of the Queensland Government, CA will put in place appropriate biosecurity measures.

"We thank all players, staff and broadcasters for their cooperation to play the matches safely."

SCG crowd capacity to be capped

The crowd at the SCG is likely to be capped at 50 per cent capacity.

The decision to keep the match in Sydney could also impact on players returning for Big Bash clubs after the Test summer wraps up.

Tim Paine, Matt Wade, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Moises Henriques and Sean Abbott are among the players to have BBL contracts and some would need to cross other state borders.

But it does mean the SCG won't miss out on hosting a Test in an Australian international summer for the first time since 1964-65.

It came on a day when the coronavirus cluster on the northern beaches grew by just three, but concerns were raised over new cases elsewhere in the city.

Heavy restrictions remain in place around the CBD for New Year's Eve, while the northern beaches also remain in a lockdown heading into January.

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.