What happens if the New Year’s test needs a new venue?

It is unlikely that Sydney hosts the third test. Picture: Wikipedia

The traditional Sydney New Year’s test is in jeopardy with fresh Covid-19 concerns gripping the NSW capital.

The Sydney Cricket Ground has kicked off the calendar year of test cricket for the Australians since 1882, but due to the most recent outbreak, there are serious discussions as to whether teams can fly in and out of the state.

Unless something dramatic happens and the NSW government is able to contain the spread quickly, Cricket Australia (CA) will be scrambling to find a new venue for the New Year’s test.

So what happens if the New Year’s test needs a new venue?

Rumours have surfaced of back-to-back test matches being played in Melbourne, with Victoria having recorded no new locally transmitted cases in almost two months.

In crisis comes opportunity, and we believe CA should consider a new venue that wasn’t scheduled for this tour.

After the postponement of Afghanistan’s one-off test match in Perth, Optus Stadium offers a ground that hasn’t been played on yet in the series. The stadium has the ability to seat 60,000 fans, and Western Australia hasn’t reported a locally transmitted case of COVID-19 since April.

The Perth venue presents as the perfect substitute stadium with Western Australian locals deprived of test cricket this tour.

Bellerive Oval in Hobart is another venue that CA should seriously consider. The Tasmanian public haven’t seen a test since South Africa toured in 2016 and are among some of the most passionate fans in the country.

One major concern for Cricket Australia would be the ability to host a test match so soon after the ground finished hosting a number of Big Bash matches. The BBL has been operating in a bio-secure bubble, with that concept to continue in Brisbane. Teams and their players relocated to Queensland on Monday, where they’ll remain throughout the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Melbourne does have the ability to host consecutive test matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The venue hasn’t hosted any professional sporting matches since the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in March, and despite hosting this year’s Boxing Day test, there’s an argument to be made that the MCG hosts back-to-back tests.

It makes the most sense.

One option that may be explored would be to switch the order of the third and fourth test matches. The Sydney area has been closed to the rest of the country, whilst the Queensland government has notified Sydneysiders the border won’t reopen until there has been 28 days of unlinked transmission.

Therefore, the earliest possible date of travel would be January 8.

With the Sydney Test currently slated to run from January 7-11, the borders would be open for players and teams to travel into Queensland for the final test, beginning January 15.

However, if more unlinked cases are recorded now, there is no possible way the two teams can travel to Queensland without a special exemption.

By switching the order of the two test matches, travel can occur from Victoria to Queensland for the New Year’s Test at the Gabba, before teams travel into New South Wales for the Sydney Test beginning on the 15th.

This would disrupt the BBL bubble created in Queensland, however it may be the only solution that keeps a test match in Sydney.

The last remaining option would be to cancel the Sydney test altogether, but for a nation that’s been deprived of international sport for so long, that would be disaster for Cricket Australia.

Back-to-back Melbourne tests makes the most logistical sense, but for the sense of theatre we think moving the third test to Hobart is the best case scenario if Sydney is unable to host.

The Tasmanian fans deserve to have test cricket back on in their backyard.

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