Melbourne, Dec 24 (IANS) Cricket Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to host the third Test of the ongoing four-match series against India as per schedule at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) despite the Covid-19 outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.
However, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) has emerged as the preferred backup venue for the third Test should the fresh coronavirus outbreak in New South Wales render playing the New Year’s match in Sydney untenable.
Both Australia and India are currently in Melbourne for the second Test that starts Saturday. The third and fourth Tests are originally slated for Sydney (January 7-11) and Brisbane (January 15-19) respectively.
“CA has reaffirmed its commitment to giving it the best chance to play the third Vodafone Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the fourth Vodafone Test at the Gabba as per the original schedule,” said CA in a statement on Thursday.
“Should the public health situation in NSW render playing in Sydney untenable, CA’s preferred contingency plan is to work with the Victorian Government to play the third Vodafone Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground followed by the fourth Vodafone Test at the Gabba,” it added.
The cricket board also said it has strong bio-security protocols in place and is working constructively with the Queensland Government to secure the requisite exemptions to enable players, match officials, broadcasters, media and staff to move from Sydney to Brisbane following the third Test should border restrictions remain in place at that time.
CA interim chief executive Nick Hockley said the board is working closely with all relevant parties to ensure Australian cricket completes a “safe and successful Border-Gavaskar Trophy series as scheduled”.
Hockley informed a final decision on the third Test venue would be made during the Boxing Day match.
“We have always maintained that scheduling a full summer of cricket during a global pandemic would require agility, problem-solving and teamwork like never before. We continue to place the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved as our number one priority,” Hockley said.
“The record testing numbers and the drop in new community transmissions in NSW have provided cause for optimism, however if the situation in Sydney deteriorates, we have strong contingency plans in place. We are working constructively with the Queensland government and have been encouraged by the positive nature of discussions with them,” he added.
Australia are currently 1-0 ahead in the four-match series following their emphatic eight-wicket win at the Adelaide Oval.