The Melbourne Cricket Club remains hopeful of staging the Boxing Day Test against India but Adelaide has been put on standby should there be a need to change.
Cricket Australia will this week confirm its summer schedule, with the Adelaide Oval to host the opening Test against India. The MCG will host the second Test on Boxing Day but that depends on how Victoria is placed with the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the Melbourne cannot host the Test, it will be held in Adelaide although Western Australian Cricket Association chief Christina Matthews told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that Perth still held some hope.
The series is then expected to shift to Sydney, which could host back-to-back Tests, or the fourth and final Test could be held in Brisbane.
The Gabba was to host the first Test but that has changed as India can initially train and play in bio-secure hub at the Adelaide Oval as there is a new hotel at the ground.
The general view is that the MCG Test won’t go ahead but Cricket Australia and the MCC want to wait until as late as possible to make a change.
Community COVID-19 transmissions in Victoria were down to 41 on Monday, giving hope the Test could go ahead.
While Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews doubts the MCG will host 100,000 people any time soon, the Melbourne Cricket Club is working on a plan that could have the MCG filled to 25 per cent of its capacity. That would equate to crowds of about 25,000, the same figure the MCC was working on should the AFL have returned in July.
“I don’t think we will see 100,000 people at the MCG for quite some time,” Andrews said last week.
“It doesn’t mean there won’t be thousands of people at the MCG but I’m not sure what that number will be and I don’t want to predict that now.
“That will be the function of how much virus is out there and the settings that COVID-19 has going.”
The MCC noted the premier’s comments with interest.
Perth had hoped to host a Test against Afghanistan from November 21 but WA’s hard border stance has thrown that into chaos as it means teams must quarantine for a fortnight and cannot train during this period. CA had also hoped Perth could host a white-ball series against India before the Tests began but this now will almost certainly have to be shifted.
Western Australian Cricket Association chief Christina Matthews said she understood her state government’s decision.
“There is no doubt Perth, from a transport point of view, is the easiest first stop for everybody but it is also the hardest state to get into,” Matthews said.
“You would be silly if you didn’t look and go, ‘Gee, what’s the ultimate fallout from here?’
“We are in a different world. It’s not as if people will see we didn’t do enough or anything like this. Whether we have cricket or not this summer will absolutely come down to whether our government allows it or not.”
Matthews said the WACA was still interested in poaching the Boxing Day Test.
“The Victorian Government have been very strong on the Boxing Day Test is going no where. They were equally strong on the AFL grand final earlier in the year but circumstances will dictate that,” she said.
“We will certainly have our hand up for that if that’s an option. That will be in a moving hub model. Again, it comes down to government approvals but it’s not the same situation now where we are trying to get the teams in just to get started.”
The Women’s Big Bash League will go ahead in a Sydney hubs while the men’s event will be held in a travelling roadshow of hubs.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.