Australian government officials are planning to have crowds back for the next Boxing Day Test in Melbourne between visitors India and the hosts as part of their rivalry for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Daniel Andrews, the Victoria state Premier, said on Monday (September 14) that his government was in detailed negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) to come up with ways through which some crowd can attend the traditional encounter of the cricketing summer.
Read Also: Shane Warne urges Cricket Australia to make all efforts in keeping Boxing Day Test at MCG
“We just have to work out what a safe crowd would be. It is too hard to say now what that number is,” Andrews said during a daily news briefing as per Associated Press. “It is too early for us to determine how big any crowd might be. We will get as many people we can get there, provided it is safe.”
CA also wish to have the Boxing Day Test at the iconic venue and don’t want to see any change in the first-choice schedule, a scenario made quite difficult by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Victoria had to go into strict six-week lockdown and night curfew because of the dangerous second wave of the outbreak after coping well through initial restrictions.
The state “accounts for 729 of Australia’s 816 deaths from COVID-19 and almost 20,000 of the country’s more than 26,500 infections, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University”, reported AP.
Andrews was forced to put his state back into a high-level lockdown last month. Restrictions, however, are expected to be eased by September 28.
The Boxing Day Test is an integral part of each Australian cricket summer, with huge crowds attending the anticipated fixture every season at the MCG.
In the COVID times, however, it is speculated CA could be forced to relocate the match to some other Test venue in the country as they try to salvage the lucrative India visit under bio-secure arrangements.
The Adelaide Oval in South Australia has emerged as the front-runner to replace the MCG, especially since the news that the on-site hotel facility at the ground will be available for accommodation near the start of the season.
Andrews, though desperate to see crowds back, is also cautious of any hiccup leading to a major problem.
“We don’t want one event to necessarily set us back and cause us a problem,” he said. “It is hard for us to predict where virus numbers will be, what risks do we have to deal within just a few weeks time, let alone months.”