Melbourne will host another Test should Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak prevent the New Year’s clash from being played at the SCG.
Cricket Australia officials say they’ll decide on the viability of the SCG Test, scheduled to start on January 7, before the end of the Boxing Day encounter at the MCG.
The CA board met on Thursday and resolved to wait further to give the Sydney its “best chance” to host the third Test against the Indians.
The board also want to stick with Brisbane hosting the fourth Test as scheduled.
But should the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches result in the SCG Test being untenable, CA’s preferred contingency is for the teams to remain in Victoria and play consecutive matches at the MCG.
Melbourne hasn’t hosted two Tests in a summer since 1981-82.
“We’re extremely buoyed by the way the NSW government and the community is handling that outbreak,” CA’s interim chief executive Nick Hockley said.
“We are currently planning all systems go for the New Year’s Test in Sydney and then moving on to Brisbane at the Gabba.”
CA was working with the Queensland government to secure travel exemptions for players, officials and broadcasters to move from Sydney to Brisbane following the SCG match, Hockley said.
The fourth Test is due to start at the Gabba on January 15, four days after the conclusion of the Sydney match.
“As everyone’s enjoying the Boxing Day Test, we (CA) are going to be working feverishly with Queensland government to satisfy them,” Hockley said.
NSW on Wednesday launched a bold bid to host two Tests in January, claiming it could help CA avoid any issues crossing the closed Queensland border.
But Hockley said playing back-to-back Tests at the SCG would be extremely unlikely.
“There’s a relatively short gap between the third and fourth Tests so from a pitch perspective it’s highly, highly problematic,” he said.
Australia coach Justin Langer praised the work being done behind the scenes to continue the series under COVID-safe conditions.
“It’s not just a matter of saying, ‘oh, that sounds like a good idea’: there’s broadcasters, so many stakeholders who are part of the decision,” he said.
“I’m sure (the CA board) will come up with the right decision for the game.”