CEO Stuart Fox on Thursday said the Melbourne Cricket Club is “ready” to host back-to-back matches between India and Australia but would rather see Sydney retain its traditional New Year’s Test.
The third Test beginning on January 7 is shrouded in uncertainty after an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in the northern beaches in Sydney earlier this month with Melbourne, which will be hosting the Boxing Day fixture, emerging as the frontrunner to host the penultimate game as well.
“I’ve been in touch with Cricket Australia daily and our position has been, we would love to see the Sydney Test Match stay in Sydney, it’s no fun having it relocated,” Fox told ‘SEN Radio’.
“We’re ready to go if we’re needed, but again, if that Test can get away in Sydney, it’s such an iconic Test, very traditional and an important sporting moment in Australian sport so let’s hope it gets away, I’d hate to see it moved.”
Even though the situation in northern beaches has improved, there are concerns that Queensland will not grant the required exemptions, which will mean players and broadcasting crews will not be able to travel from Sydney to Brisbane between the third and fourth Tests.
In a bid to save its New Year fixture, NSW on Wednesday had offered to host the Brisbane Test as well, if the Queensland government refuses to grant exemptions to the teams returning from Sydney.
“I think Cricket Australia will give Sydney every opportunity to host their Test. I don’t think a decision is pending today, probably the strategy would be to delay and see where the Sydney numbers get to,” Fox said.
“All we’re doing is just preparing just in case. Obviously, there’s a lot to think about with staffing, preparing another pitch and ticket sales, so we’re in a position, we’re ready to go, but again, let’s hope it stays in Sydney.
“If the decision is delayed a bit, I think that’s the best outcome for cricket and for Sydney.”
Cricket Australia had earlier asserted that the Sydney Cricket Ground remains its preferred venue for the fixture.
According to a report in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, the CA board is meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.
“CA is now working on two scenarios, both of which include Brisbane, according to a source familiar with the matter,” the report stated.
“CA’s board was due to hold an urgent meeting around lunchtime on Christmas Eve, though there remained no guarantees as to whether a call would be made on Thursday, with sources feeling CA would try to buy as much time as possible before retooling the schedule for the remainder of the blockbuster series.”
The third Test is scheduled to start on January 7, while the series finale is scheduled to be played at the Gabba on January 15.