Big Bash League teams will move into a Melbourne hub while still playing home games interstate as part of a plan to combat the COVID-19 outbreaks that have hampered the competition’s schedule.
Under Cricket Australia’s soon-to-be-announced model, all eight BBL teams will begin to take residence in a Melbourne hub over the final stage of the season.
Some matches will be relocated to Victoria, while some teams will be able to host home games in a fly-in, fly-out plan to still play around the country.
It’s understood chartered flights could be used for those matches outside Victoria in a bid to minimise contact with the public and the risk of further infection.
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) January 6, 2022
It comes as CA on Thursday postponed a third match this season, with Friday night’s clash between Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers the affected fixture.
The Stars were hopeful of having several of their 13 infected players return for the game, however, forcing them to travel to Adelaide and play immediately upon exiting quarantine was not deemed fair.
It is the second Stars game to be postponed, as well as one Brisbane Heat match after there were 12 positive cases in their camp this week.
“It’s very complex. We are gradually moving the teams into Melbourne,” CA CEO Nick Hockley told SEN.
“We saw the other night we had a critical mass of teams in southeast Queensland, and we were able to rejig fixtures to keep going.
“The last 10 days of the group stage of the competition, we will be gradually moving teams into Melbourne.
“They will still fly in and fly out for games in home markets.
“But if a team is impacted it gives us much more opportunity to swap teams in.”
Hockley said his belief the competition could continue was based on outbreaks being “predominantly” in only two teams.
Brisbane’s game against Sydney Sixers was postponed twice this week, but Heat fielded a near-unrecognisable team against Melbourne Renegades on Thursday night with 12 players unavailable.
The Stars have also had to use local replacement players with up to 12 of their players out in the past week, in between the two postponements.
The Strikers remain the only team unaffected, after four members of Sydney Sixers’ touring party tested positive to the virus on Thursday.
Sydney Thunder, Hobart Hurricanes, the Renegades and Perth Scorchers have also played with depleted teams this season.
However, Hockley insisted the integrity of the competition had not been damaged, with 22 regular-season matches to be played as well as finals.
“While it’s not ideal, it’s great the level of commitment everyone is showing to the competition continuing,” Hockley said.
“In every step we have prioritised the health and wellbeing of those involved.
“We have a clear plan now for the final run in. We are very confident we will be able to complete the competition fully.”