SCG Test watertight against COVID rise

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

Cricket Australia claim their third Test plan for the SCG is watertight and the ensuing passage through to Brisbane can withstand a rise in Sydney COVID-19 cases.

Just over 12 hours after Cricket Australia confirmed the historic ground could host the January 7-11 Test against India, Sydney's numbers dramatically spiked.

NSW recorded 18 cases of local transmission on Wednesday - their highest in 10 days - and also had a new cluster emerge outside of the northern beaches.

Sydney's Test was only possible after an 11th hour agreement by the Queensland Government to grant exemptions to players and officials to cross the closed border for the fourth Test at the Gabba.

As part of the deal, players will move from Melbourne to Sydney just days out from the Test and remain in a strict bio-secure bubble that will limit contact with the outside.

On arrival into Queensland conditions will be just as stringent, with players only allowed to leave the hotel to train or play under the terms of the exemption.

That had prompted questions over whether a surge in Sydney cases could impact those exemptions, but interim Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said there was no such risk.

"That was precisely the reason why we have our biosecurity protocols," Hockley said.

"It's why we have measures in place and why we are in a bubble in Sydney.

"The arrangements we have with the Queensland Government are that we can keep the players and broadcast crew all safe and they can move safely into Brisbane."

Hockley would therefore not divulge whether other contingencies are in place in the event that the exemptions do become problematic.

Working in Cricket Australia's favour at least is that they have been able to whittle the travelling party down from around 100 to 30, with limited need for moving broadcast crew.

The next great challenge for the organisation now remains what movements players can make after the Brisbane Test.

Given they will have been in Sydney within two weeks of it finishing, exemptions may be required for them to return to their home states.

Other players, including Matt Wade, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Moises Henriques could require similar exemptions to feature as marquees at the end of the BBL season.

"Players who are going onto the BBL, we will work to get the necessary exemptions if there are restrictions still in place," Hockley said.

"We are working closely with the whole government to get this whole summer to happen.

"I think the strength of our biosecurity protocols gives us confidence in that regard."

Speaking before the news of the increased case numbers, Hockley also said the 50 per cent capacity for crowds at the Sydney Test was only a "baseline" that could still rise.