The clock is ticking as Cricket Australia plot a path around Sydney’s coronavirus cluster and decide what to do about the third Test.
CA chief executive Nick Hockley suggested on Sunday that keeping the third Test, slated to begin on January 7, at the SCG was the sport’s preference and it would make “decisions in the appropriate timeframes”.
Monday’s update from NSW revealed 15 new COVID-19 cases from a record 38,578 tests – all linked to the Avalon cluster – and was widely received as good news.
But border closures represent a significant logistical puzzle for CA, while questions remain over likely crowd numbers at the SCG.
Queensland made it clear on Monday that its border will not open to Sydneysiders until there has been 28 days of no unlinked transmission.
January 8 is the earliest possible date.
The third Test will end on January 11 if it runs to a fifth day, while the fourth Test is scheduled to begin on January 15.
CA’s biosecurity rules could potentially help secure exemptions for players, as was the case during the NRL season when Sydney-based teams travelled to Brisbane.
But broadcast staff and Decision Review System (DRS) operators are part of the sport’s travelling circus; hence why one contingency option is for Sydney to host the series finale after a third Test at the Gabba.
Meanwhile, Big Bash League players won’t be allowed to visit family homes in Queensland for Christmas after CA tightened its biosecurity guidelines.
Five squads relocated from Hobart to Brisbane on Monday for the next round of games.
Conditions for players around Christmas week have changed due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak and fears of cases seeding in other states.
CA previously planned to allow players and staff with families in Brisbane to spend time with them this week, as long as those around them isolated for three days prior.
However, that plan has changed with CA desperate to ensure players do not get classified as close contacts.
While there is currently no major risk in Brisbane, officials are concerned if family members visited venues that later became case locations then players could be deemed close contacts.
“It’s going to be a bit different for some families,” Adelaide Strikers quick Peter Siddle said.
“To get the tournament going we need to sacrifice a few things.
“If it’s one Christmas to keep the tournament going and keep it going strong, you can wear that.”
The latest decision is believed to impact about 30 players and staff, including Adelaide batsman Matt Renshaw and the majority of Brisbane Heat’s squad.
Visitors may be allowed into the BBL bubble after a COVID-19 test but it will depend on their recent movements.
Organisers remain eager to show state governments that they are keeping their players clear of the virus to ensure border crossings.
Sydney is set to host eight BBL games in January but those games look increasingly under threat, while doubt remains as to whether Sydney Sixers or Sydney Thunder will be able to host finals.
Perth Scorchers and Hobart Hurricanes are currently scheduled to cross the closed border into Victoria after playing regular-season games in Sydney.