Vodafone Test Series v India
CA eager to make the MCG roar again
Nick Hockley helped draw a massive crowd to the 'G earlier this year and is hopeful it will again for Melbourne's India Test this summer despite COVID-19 setbacks
8 August 2020, 01:16 PM AEST
The man who led the charge to draw a record women’s T20 World Cup final crowd is now eager to get fans back to the MCG for another Australia-India blockbuster this year, despite considerable obstacles.
The iconic Melbourne venue, which welcomed 86,174 fans to the Australia women’s team’s triumph in March, will not host a second World Cup final this year after the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed the men’s event would be postponed to 2022.
But Cricket Australia (CA) interim chief executive Nick Hockley, who was head of both 2020 World Cups, is optimistic the ‘G will not lose the marquee Boxing Day Test as well.
With the men's T20 World Cup on the backburner, pulling off a successful home summer schedule that features India as its major drawcard now shapes as a fresh logistical challenge for Hockley and CA.
Victoria is currently in the grip of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, putting Melbourne significantly behind the rest of Australia in its recovery from the pandemic and putting into question its readiness to host major events.
While reports of other states keenly eyeing off the prized Boxing Day Test slot have emerged, Hockley is hopeful Melbourne and the MCG will be able to host one of the country's biggest annual sporting events by the end of the year.
"It comes down to if we can get a crowd at the MCG we’ll play at the MCG," Hockley told reporters on Saturday.
"All the restrictions that are ongoing, we are just hopeful that they take very quick effect and we get back on top of the situation and people can get out and about, we can get back to crowds and get back to live events.
"We are full steam ahead with the planning (for Boxing Day at the MCG) in the anticipation that we’ll be back to some level of normalcy by that point in time.
"It's one of the most iconic events on the Australian sporting calendar. Certainly at this stage we are planning full steam ahead.
"We're in really constructive discussions with the BCCI (the Indian cricket board) and the government to make sure we get all the travel exemptions for India to come."
While Hockley added CA is months away from having to make a final call, he confirmed alternative options were being developed.
"We are having to remain agile, certainly we're looking at contingency planning across the entire summer," he said. "Not necessarily specific to certain matches, but our entire events.
"As things change we're doing everything we can and we have all the back-up arrangements to make sure we get cricket played."
The decision to postpone the 2020 T20 World Cup to 2022 sets up cricket as possibly the only sport in the world to be planning on holding three men’s World Cups in as many years.
That’s in addition to standalone ODI and T20 World Cups for the women currently slated for 2022.
Just 12 months will separate the 2021 and 2022 men’s T20 World Cups in India and Australia. India then host the men's ODI World Cup a year later in 2023.
It comes after what will be a five-and-a-half year gap between the last men's T20 World Cup in 2016 (also in India) and the 2021 tournament.
Hockley stressed there were no hard feelings towards India for holding onto the 2021 edition of the event, denying a media report that suggested India had won approval for the 2021 tournament because Australia couldn’t guarantee government support for the postponed event.
Hockley, who also played a key role in the organising committee for the 2015 ODI World Cup down under, was confident Australians would get behind the 2022 tournament amid a calendar saturated with global cricket events.
"We'd sold hundreds of thousands of tickets for this World Cup (that was originally) coming up in October and November," said Hockley. "From a cricket sense, we've got incredible communities and supporters for all the competition nations.
"There is this unusual quirk where we've got multiple events in a short time frame. But the prospect of hosting a men's T20 World Cup, the 16 best teams in the world, incredible venues we've got, fans from all different competing nations, I think it's going to be a fantastic celebration.
"It's just a shame we have to wait another two years for that to happen."