CANBERRA’S slim albeit valid hopes of hosting a Test match during January were dashed after Cricket Australia guaranteed Sydney retained its itinerary status for the remainder of the Indian series.
The SCG was set to be scrapped for the third Test over the outbreak of recent coronavirus cases throughout parts of Sydney’s northern beaches.
The further issue was – and still unofficially remains – concern over the Australian and Indian teams, and the game’s broadcasters and media, entry into Queensland being allowed for persons leaving New South Wales despite the firm border closure.
Cricket Australia’s board made the call on Tuesday night (December 29) to keep the SCG and the Gabba for the final two Tests of this summer, handing out reassurances amid a possible quarantine bubble.
It could mean the Australian players will miss a further two weeks of the Big Bash League, which nearly half of the games in the current competition so far have been held at Manuka Oval during their absence.
Canberra was proposed in some quarters as an alternative to hosting the Test that is due to start on January 7, which would give Sydneysiders outside of the coronavirus cluster and nearby NSW country residents the opportunity to attend the traditional New Year clash.
Although Melbourne was heavily favoured to step into the role and host back-to-back Test matches, Manuka Oval initially got backing from Australian Test great Shane Warne.
The boutique venue successfully hosted a Test between Australia and Sri Lanka in February 2019.
“If not (Sydney), Canberra is a pretty good alternative too,” Warne said commentating during a cricket broadcast.
“It is a very good set-up there with great facilities, great pitch and good conditions.”