Cricket

With Melbourne battling surge in coronavirus cases, Sydney makes pitch to host India Boxing Day Test

  • Agence France-Presse
  • August 8th, 2020
  • 14:05:15 IST

Sydney made a pitch Saturday to host the money-spinning Boxing Day Test against India as its traditional home Melbourne battles a surge in coronavirus cases.

The fate of the marquee fixture is uncertain with no live sport currently in Melbourne as it struggles with hundreds of new daily infections, in contrast to Sydney which continues to see only a handful of cases.

Reports have suggested Adelaide is the frontrunner to host the 26-30 December clash if Melbourne is not able to, but Sydney Cricket Ground Trust chairman Tony Shepherd said they too were keen.

Empty seats ring the field during a One Day International cricket match between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Friday, March 13, 2020. AP

Sydney Cricket Ground is currently pencilled in to host the second Australia-India Test. AP

"We'd be very happy to host it because it's a major event and it's good for Sydney, and people like coming to Sydney, and we have the capacity to host it if that's what Cricket Australia want to do," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

If that occurred, it would mean a double-header in the city with the usual Sydney Test ordinarily played after Melbourne.

Shepherd said the large Indian diaspora in Sydney would relish the extra opportunity to see their national team live.

"They would love both events, a double-header would be fabulous," he said.

According to the Herald, Cricket Australia will hold a meeting in the coming week to discuss the issue.

Other possibilities suggested include Adelaide and Perth, which have largely escaped the coronavirus and have hotels adjacent to their grounds, acting as hubs and hosting multiple Tests.

Currently four Tests against India are pencilled in for Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney from early December, with Perth hosting Afghanistan.

Cricket Australia's interim chief executive Nick Hockley said Melbourne retaining the Test depended on whether fans were allowed.

"It comes down to if we can get a crowd at the MCG, we'll play at the MCG," he told reporters on Saturday. "We are full steam ahead with the planning (for Boxing Day at the MCG) in the anticipation that we'll be back to some level of normalcy by that point in time."

But he conceded that "certainly we're looking at contingency planning across the entire summer".

"Not necessarily specific to certain matches, but our entire events," he added.

The lucrative India series is seen as critical for the financial health of Cricket Australia, which has been hard hit by the pandemic with its hosting of the Twenty20 World Cup this year postponed until 2022.

On Friday, New South Wales state Deputy Premier John Barilaro said he had written to sports stakeholders and officials in Victoria, whose capital is Melbourne, offering Sydney as host for major sports events as a backup.

That could include the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam in January.

Updated Date: August 08, 2020 14:05:15 IST

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