The SCG will host the third cricket Test against India after Cricket Australia deemed it safe to play in Sydney.
Cricket Australia’s board met late on Tuesday night to weigh up whether to keep the match in Sydney or play it at the MCG.
Crucial to the decision was not only the current COVID-19 cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, but also the closed Queensland border ahead of the fourth Test in Brisbane.
However, CA officials on Tuesday night deemed it possible to complete the summer with the match in Sydney going ahead as planned from January 7.
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) December 29, 2020
CA’s interim CEO Nick Hockley said that health advice from the NSW government and collaboration with the NSW and Queensland governments had informed the decision.
“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,” Hockley said.
“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, which has a wonderful recent history of hosting the Pink Test and Jane McGrath Day on the third day of play.
“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.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 29, 2020
As part of the decision, crowds are expected to be capped at 50 per cent in line with recent restrictions at A-League matches.
As late as Tuesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian had expressed fears that Queensland’s border restrictions would force the match to be played in Melbourne.
But ultimately, that proved not the case.
The coronavirus cluster on Sydney’s Northern Beaches stands at 129 cases, but there have been more venues of concern popping up in the city and in Wollongong.
Heavy restrictions are also in place around the city for New Year’s Eve, but tight lockdowns in the northern half of the northern beaches extend beyond the start of the Test.
The decision comes after the NSW government came in at the last minute to allow India into the country and train while in quarantine in November, a point mentioned by Mr Hockley on Tuesday night.
Had the game been moved, it would have marked the first time since 1964-65 an Australian Test summer did not involve at least one of the matches at the SCG.
The decision could ultimately provide some advantage to Australia, given they have been beaten just once at the venue since 2003.
In contrast, India levelled the series at 1-1 at the MCG on Tuesday after defeating the hosts by eight wickets in the Boxing Day Test.