The SCG will host the third cricket Test against India after Cricket Australia deemed it safe to play in Sydney.
Cricket Australia’s board met late on Tuesday night to weigh up whether to keep the match in Sydney or play it at the MCG.
Crucial to the decision was not only the current Covid-19 cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches, but also the closed Queensland border ahead of the fourth Test in Brisbane.
However, CA officials on Tuesday night deemed it possible to complete the summer with the match in Sydney going ahead as planned from 7 January.
As part of the decision, crowds are expected to be capped at 50%.
As late as Tuesday morning, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian had expressed fears that Queensland’s border restrictions would force the match to be played in Melbourne.
But ultimately, that proved not the case.
Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s Interim CEO, said that health advice from the NSW government and collaboration with both the NSW and Queensland governments had informed the decision.
“We have met regularly over the past week to assess the unfolding public health situation in Sydney and gauge its impact on border restrictions around the country,” Hockley said in a statement.
“To date, we have been able to deliver a safe and successful summer thanks to our detailed biosecurity protocols and the amazing work of so many great people behind the scenes.”
Had the game been moved, it would have marked the first time since 1964-65 an Australian Test summer did not involve at least one of the matches at the SCG.
The decision could ultimately provide some advantage to Australia, given they have been beaten just once at the venue since 2003.
India levelled the series at 1-1 at the MCG on Tuesday after defeating the hosts by eight wickets in the Boxing Day Test.
CA has been in negotiations with government and health officials since Queensland declared Sydney a coronavirus hotspot and closed its border to travellers from the area.
Both teams and their entourages have been in bio-secure hubs throughout the summer, and Jeannette Young, Queensland’s chief medical officer, indicated that as long as the travelling cohort remained inside their bubbles, they would be granted access to the state.
The players would be housed in a quarantine hotel and allowed to leave only to train and play the Gabba Test match, she said on Tuesday.
“We have had a number of discussions with Cricket Australia and they would need to follow the same arrangements that we’ve had in place for other sporting codes when they travel from a hot spot,” Young said.
In the event of the situation being untenable for Sydney to host the match, the MCG had been on standby to step in and hold a second consecutive match.
Earlier on Tuesday, Berejiklian urged Cricket Australia to consider moving the Brisbane Test, rather than the Sydney Test.
“That is an option Cricket Australia should consider, frankly,” she said. “We have worked closely with Cricket Australia and they have been really great to work and have given us the same feedback.”
“But we are at the behest of other state governments and I’ve said from the outset that every response has to be proportionate to the risk.”
Berejiklian also issued a thinly veiled slight at Queensland, claiming there had been an “overreaction” in the way other state premiers had responded to the northern beaches outbreak.
“They are pleased with the plans we have put forward but it is out of our hands given it is the Queensland government that is creating a bit of difficulty for them,” Berejiklian added.
“We have been around-the-clock working to support Cricket Australia and have done the best we can do.”
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