‘We can run two Tests’: Sydney’s extraordinary plan to save the New Year Test

Cricket Australia (CA) was put on high alert earlier this month after an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the northern beaches in Sydney, which is scheduled to host the third Test from January 7.

In a bid to save its New Year fixture between India and Australia, the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust has offered to host the Brisbane Test too, if the Queensland government refuse to grant exemptions to the teams returning from New South Wales.

Cricket Australia (CA) was put on high alert earlier this month after an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the northern beaches in Sydney, which is scheduled to host the third Test from January 7.

Even though the situation in northern beaches has improved, there are concerns that Queensland may close its border with New South Wales, which will mean players and broadcasting crews will not be able to travel from Sydney to Brisbane between the third and fourth Tests.

“We can run two Tests if necessary, no problems at all,” Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust chairman Tony Shepherd told ‘The Age’.

Under the circumstances, Melbourne, which will be hosting the Boxing Day fixture from December 26, has emerged as the frontrunner to host the third Test as well.

However, CA has asserted that the SCG remains its preferred venue for the third Test.

“We’ve made it very clear to Cricket Australia we’re flexible and would be very, very disappointed to lose the Sydney Test. And that’s with the support of the NSW government,” Shepherd said.

NSW had come to CA’s aid in October when, after lengthy discussions and negotiations, the Queensland’s health department denied the cricket body’s request to allow Indian and Australian players returning from the IPL to train while serving their 14-day quarantine.

“Sydney saved the day, the NSW government supported it, NSW is the cricket centre of Australia in terms of participation, players at the elite end and at community level. We have the biggest Indian diaspora in Australia,” Shepherd said.

“The SCG is the most historic ground in Australia, second most historic ground in the world. It’s a special place. The NSW government is very supportive of having the game, and will do everything we can to have it as a success,” Shepherd added.

A Queensland government source said that they are holding discussions with CA but hinted that the state will not review its border closure to Greater Sydney until January 8.

“Our priority is keeping Queenslanders safe and keeping transmission out of our community,” the spokesperson said.

“We have been able to relax internal restrictions sooner than other states because we have been cautious with our borders. Sport and recreation and Cricket Australia are currently in discussions with the Queensland government.”

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