Australia’s Boxing Day Test this year, which will be against India, can be moved out of its traditional venue – the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – due to a sudden spike in the positive cases of COVID-19 in Victoria’s capital city, believes Australian skipper Tim Paine.
According to a report in PTI, Perth’s Optus Stadium can be the alternate venue for the Test as it has a capacity of 60,000 and is considered one of the best cricket venues in the country.
“Certainly, from a player’s point of view, we want to be playing in front of big crowds at the best venues and a big day like Boxing Day is something that everyone looks forward to and a big part of that is playing at the MCG,” Paine said in a video message posted on CA website.
“Fingers crossed things are going well enough that we can do that but, as I said, we are spoilt for choice here in Australia with some world-class stadiums. If something had to change, then, again, we have plenty of options.”
The decision to move the Boxing Day Test could be taken because Cricket Australia (CA) is planning to host the four-match series against India with fans inside the stadiums, unlike the ongoing norm to organsie matches at empty venues.
“For outdoor venues up to 40,000 spectator capacity, ticketed and seated events will be able to be held in front of a crowd of no more than 25 per cent of capacity under Step 3,” a statement from the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as per on the official website.
“For outdoor venues of more than 40,000 spectator capacity, further advice is being sought from the AHPPC, with arrangements to be settled by the states and territories on a venue by venue basis,” it added.
With a rise in active cases, allowing fans would not be a feasible option. However, the series still remains six months away and no official message has been aired by CA yet.
CA had, however, said that it was keeping the possibility to host the series between India and Australia in one or two venues in case the COVID-19 situation in the future makes it hard to stage matches in different venues.
As of now, the matches are scheduled to be played at Brisbane Gabba, Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Gabba would host the opening match from December 3. While the second match in Adelaide from December 11 will be India’s first away Day-Night Test, the ones in Melbourne and Sydney will be the traditional Boxing Day and New Year Tests respectively.