Vodafone Test Series v India
CA confirms MCG on standby to host third Test
A coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has prompted CA officials to make a contingency plan but Sydney will be given every opportunity to host the annual New Year's Test
24 December 2020, 03:40 PM AEST
The Melbourne Cricket Ground is in line to host back-to-back Test matches this summer but Cricket Australia is giving Sydney every opportunity to get the COVID-19 outbreak under control before making a final decision on the venue for the third Vodafone Test match.
An outbreak of coronavirus in Sydney's northern beaches has put CA officials on high alert with an emergency meeting of CA's Board and a steering committee of administrators working to plan for contingencies.
CA today announced the MCG as the back-up venue if the SCG is unable to host the third Test against India from January 7, while the intention is for the Gabba to remain the venue for the series finale from January 15.
A final decision on the venue for the third Test will be made during the Boxing Day Test.
"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," Cricket Australia's interim CEO Nick Hockley said in a statement.
"We continue to place the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved as our number one priority.
"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."
Complicating matters for the Australia and India teams and associated events, broadcast and media contingents are state border closures, with the Queensland border now shut to anyone coming from the greater Sydney area.
Keeping the SCG Test as scheduled would put the Gabba Test, scheduled from January 15, in jeopardy, but moving between Melbourne and Brisbane would not – as things stand today – require any quarantine period.
Hockley stated the governing body was "working constructively" with the Queensland Government to secure the necessary travel exemptions to allow key personnel to travel into the state when required.
Australia coach Justin Langer today praised the work being done behind the scenes to continue the series under COVID-safe conditions.
"I know there's a lot of work being done. I know that is incredibly complex," he said.
"It's not just a matter of saying, 'oh, that sounds like a good idea': there's broadcasters, so many stakeholders who are part of the decision."
The MCG has not hosted a January Test since 1990 when Allan Border's Australia beat Pakistan by 92 runs off the back of a century by Mark Taylor and five fourth-innings wickets for Terry Alderman.
Melbourne didn't host a Boxing Day Test in that 1989-90 summer, with a one-day World Series Cricket tournament featuring Pakistan and Sri Lanka played over the Christmas and New Year period instead.
It's not since 1981 that the Melbourne venue has hosted two Test matches in the one season, when Pakistan beat Greg Chappell's Australia in mid-December before backing up 11 days later for the Boxing Day Test against the West Indies, which Australia won.
The SCG has not missed out on hosting an Australia Test match for an entire summer since the 1966-67 season, when no international cricket was played at home with Australia touring South Africa under Bob Simpson, losing a five-match series 3-1 that was played between December 23, 1966 and February 28, 1967.
Sydney's New Year's Test has become known as the 'Pink Test' in recent times and is a major fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer support and education charity set up by former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath, whose first wife Jane died of the disease.
Last summer, the Pink Test in its 12th year raised more than $1.2 million for the charity.
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj
First Test: Australia won by eight wickets
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT