Melbourne: If the third Test between India and Australia shifts to Melbourne because of stringent COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney, the MCG will consider allowing more than the currently permitted 30,000 spectators here, the ground's president Stuart Fox said on Saturday.
Uncertainty looms over the New Year's Test being held at the SCG from 7 January because of stricter quarantine rules set by Queensland, the host of the fourth Test, for people arriving from Sydney due to the surge in COVID-19 cases there. MCG is hosting the second Test right now and has capped the spectator count at 30,000.
India are set to play their fourth and final Test in Brisbane from January 15 and current health protocols would require the touring side to undergo quarantine if they play the third Test at the SCG.
"I would love it but we have to go do what's right for the community. If it's confirmed the MCG is hosting it, we go back to the government and re-submit another plan and they will have a look at it," Fox was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald when asked if the permissible crowd numbers could surge if the match is held in Melbourne.
"It's more important we get this one away safely and then we will reassess after that," Fox said.
While Fox said that the MCG will be ready if required, he would ideally like SCG to host the Test match.
"Yes we can, we are ready to go but, I have said all along, we really do hope it can stay in Sydney. It's a really, really special Test," he said.
"...I really do hope it gets away in Sydney but we are on standby, we are ready to go. There are a few challenges with that but, if we are needed, we are ready."
Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said that his government and health officials took a cautious approach in terms of capacity for the Boxing Day Test after having agreed to allow an extra 5000 into the stadium.
"This was always going to be the event where we were more on the conservative side in terms of numbers. We want to test the processes," Pakula told the paper.
He felt that MCG's capacity can allow a larger crowd which Cricket Australia won't mind.
"I am sure Cricket Australia would like to see a slightly bigger crowd if they could get it. I think our position on that is, let's wait and see for a decision on where the Test is," he said.
"If the Test is going to be at the MCG, then Cricket Australia would submit a plan. If it's for a slightly higher number, then that would be a matter for the CHO (chief health officer) to assess," he added
The SCG Test, over the years, has also been a charity event for the Jane McGrath Foundation.
"The Sydney Test is a very important game. It's the Jane McGrath Foundation fund-raising Test, the pink Test ... I really hope NSW get to a position where it can put that Test on.
"But as Stuart said, if we are needed, we are ready to go and, if we are needed, we will look and see what crowd numbers are once CA makes that call."
MCG curator Matt Page has intimated to authorities that he would require 10 days' notice to ensure that a second pitch was up to Test-match standard.
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Tim Paine admitted that there will be an element of uncertainty associated with the Brisbane Test if India, a powerful cricket board, wants to press the pressure button.
Nick Hockley said Cricket Australia has come to an agreement with BCCI for the fourth Test to take place at Brisbane.