Cricket Australia has decided the third Test between Australia and India will go ahead at the SCG despite concerns about the threat of COVID-19.
A recent outbreak in Sydney forced CA to consider contingency plans that may have seen the players remain in Melbourne to play a second match in a row at the MCG.
However, Sydneysiders desperate to see some live Test cricket can breathe a sigh of relief after the call was made to plough ahead with the initial plan, which is scheduled to see the third Test kick off in the Harbour City on January 7.
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A coronavirus outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches saw people living in that area forced into a strict lockdown and the virus has since spread to other parts of the city.
On Tuesday NSW recorded three new cases which were identified in hotel quarantine and acquired overseas, and three other cases not linked to the Avalon cluster. Because more potential hot spots have emerged and there is mystery surrounding the origin of several COVID-19 cases, the state is remaining on high alert.
It meant the traditional New Year’s fixture at the SCG was at risk of being moved but CA confirmed late on Tuesday night Sydney will still host the third Test.
Acting CA CEO Nick Hockley said the decision to play in Sydney — and keep the fourth Test in Brisbane on the schedule — was made after discussions with the NSW and Queensland governments.
“We have met regularly over the past week to assess the unfolding public health situation in Sydney and gauge its impact on border restrictions around the country,” Hockley said. “To date, we have been able to deliver a safe and successful summer thanks to our detailed biosecurity protocols and the amazing work of so many great people behind the scenes.
“We are confident that both this match, and the fourth Test in Brisbane, will play out in a safe and successful manner and thus round out what has been a magnificent men’s international program this summer.
“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 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 and we thank all players, staff and broadcasters for their co-operation to play the matches safely.”
The Queensland border is closed to Sydneysiders, leading to suggestions Australian and Indian players might need to isolate while only being allowed out to train ahead of the fourth Test in Brisbane.
Before the decision to play in Sydney was confirmed, Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said: “We have had a number of discussions with Cricket Australia and they (the teams) would need to follow the same arrangements that we’ve had in place for other sporting codes when they travel from a hotspot.
“I’ve just made clear what would need to occur if they were to play in Sydney and Sydney was still regarded as a hot spot at that time. Because that’s not even certain, of course.”