Marsh Sheffield Shield 2021-22
Cricket returns to MCG as more games are confirmed
NSW and Victoria will finally begin their seasons next week, but they appear unlikely to play the other states until next year
20 October 2021, 03:31 PM AEST
Cricket and possibly crowds will return to the MCG in a little more than two weeks with Victoria and New South Wales to finally begin their seasons after Cricket Australia today confirmed details of another 10 men's domestic matches.
Having had their season starts delayed by COVID-19 lockdowns and state border closures, NSW and Victoria will play their first match of the summer next week, a Marsh Sheffield Shield game at Sydney's Drummoyne Oval on October 27-30.
The two teams will then head to Melbourne for another Shield match at the MCG on November 5-8 before a day-night Marsh One-Day Cup game at the same venue on November 12.
It's yet to be confirmed if members of the public will be allowed to attend, with Cricket NSW and Cricket Victoria working on COVID-safe plans with relevant bodies in order to meet public health requirements.
The Victorian Government revealed last week that 10,000 fully vaccinated patrons will be allowed to attend the Melbourne Cup on November 2, while thousands of vaccinated fans attended The Everest horse race in Sydney last week.
Spectators have not been permitted to attend sport at the MCG since July.
The news of cricket returning to Australia's two biggest cities is a boost ahead of the men's Ashes this summer, which is scheduled to include the traditional Boxing Day and New Year's Tests in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.
It's also good news for the likes of Nathan Lyon (NSW) and Marcus Harris (Victoria), whose preparations for the Ashes can now begin in earnest.
News Corp is reporting that Victorian opener Will Pucovksi is expected to miss at least the first game in Sydney after he recently suffered a concussion.
NSW say Lyon is expected to play in next week's Shield opener despite also suffering a concussion in an intra-squad match on Wednesday.
"It's going to be fantastic to see New South Wales and Victoria get their seasons started in what will prove to be an important build-up to the men's Ashes series, and we thank both State Governments for their collaboration and support in making this happen," said Peter Roach, Cricket Australia's Head of Cricket Operations and Scheduling.
"The upcoming Ashes series promises to be a tough encounter, making it important to play as much red-ball cricket as possible and give all Test aspirants the opportunity to put their hand up."
The initial domestic schedule was torn up last month due to the inability of NSW and Victorian players to travel interstate, but matches can be played now that restrictions have eased and quarantine-free travel between those states has been given the green light.
However, the governments of the other four states – who are maintaining a 'COVID zero' strategy until vaccination rates increase – are yet to open their borders to people from NSW and Victoria, unless they are granted a government exemption and agree to quarantine.
It means those two states are only able to play against each other and that appears likely to remain the case until after the mid-season break for the KFC BBL, which is scheduled to begin on December 5. NSW confirmed they and Victoria are hoping to schedule another Shield and one-day game against each other before the Big Bash starts.
"This is fantastic for both New South Wales and Victorian cricket that we have been able to find a workable solution after a lot of hard work," said Michael Klinger, Cricket NSW's Head of Male Cricket.
"We are very grateful to all our players and staff who have been patiently going about their business in amongst all the uncertainty and now we can’t wait to see them get out and play some cricket. We really appreciate their efforts."
Queensland confirmed this week that its border will remain shut until 80 per cent of its population is double vaccinated, which is expected to happen on December 17, while the governments of South Australia and Tasmania are expected to announce their roadmaps this week but have indicated borders are unlikely to open before the BBL begins.
Western Australia premier Mark McGowan said yesterday its border would not open to NSW and Victorian residents until after Christmas.
The other seven domestic matches that were confirmed today will see South Australia play Western Australia in Perth, Queensland host Tasmania in Townsville, the Redbacks play Tassie in Hobart and the Bulls host WA in Brisbane.
Marsh Sheffield Shield
Oct 27-30: Western Australia vs South Australia – WACA Ground
Oct 27-30: Queensland vs Tasmania – Riverway Stadium, Townsville
Oct 27-30: New South Wales vs Victoria - Drummoyne Oval
Nov 5-8: Victoria vs New South Wales – MCG
Nov 10-13: Queensland vs Western Australia – Gabba
Nov 10-13: Tasmania vs South Australia – Blundstone Arena
Marsh One-Day Cup
Oct 25: Western Australia vs South Australia – WACA Ground
Nov 1: Queensland vs Tasmania – Riverway Stadium, Townsville
Nov 12: Victoria vs New South Wales – MCG (D/N)
Nov 15: Queensland vs Western Australia – Gabba (D/N)