The New Year’s Test match will go ahead as planned at the Sydney Cricket Ground despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in NSW.
Due to start on 7th January, the third Test of the series between Australia and India, had been in doubt over whether players, support staff and broadcasters could travel from NSW after the SCG to Queensland, where the fourth and final match is scheduled to start at Brisbane’s Gabba on 15th January.
However, Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s acting Chief Executive today advised that that health advice from the NSW Government and collaboration between the NSW and Queensland Governments had informed the decision.
Hockley explained in a statement “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.
“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.
"To that end, we have made the decision to keep the New Year's Test at the SCG.
"We are confident that both this match, and the fourth Test in Brisbane, will play out in a safe and successful manner and thus round out what has been a magnificent men's international program this summer.”
Cricket Australia’s move also gained approval from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Complicating the hosting decision is the Queensland Government having closed the state’s border to anyone coming from the greater Sydney area, putting events, broadcast and media contingents in limbo, as well as the Australia and India players.
Both teams and their entourages have been in bio-secure hubs throughout the summer, with Queensland Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeannette Young indicating that as long as the travelling cohort remained inside their bubbles, they would be granted access to the state.
Dr Young advised “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.”
In the event of the situation being untenable for Sydney to host the match, the MCG is on standby to step in and hold a second consecutive match.
However, earlier on Tuesday, the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged Cricket Australia to consider moving the Brisbane Test, rather than the Sydney Test.
Premier Berejiklian advised “that is an option Cricket Australia should consider.
“We have worked closely with Cricket Australia and they have been really great to work and have given us the same feedback.”
Uncertainty over fan numbers
The number of fans to be allowed into the SCG has yet to be confirmed with NSW currently having a reduced capacity of 50% at sporting venues.
However, as the COVID-19 outbreak on Sydney's Northern Beaches continues to spread and the NSW Government looks to reduce mass gatherings, it would appear that the annual ‘Pink Test’ will be played behind closed doors.
The SCG's New Year's Test has become known as the 'Pink Test' in recent times and is a major fundraiser for the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer support and education charity set up by former Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath, whose first wife Jane died of the disease.
Last summer, the Pink Test in its 12th year raised more than $1.2 million for the charity, and McGrath welcomed news the tradition would continue.
Image: The Pink Test at the SCG.
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