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Smith’s fingers crossed for Sydney Test

Steve Smith has backed the MCG to host successive Test matches, if required, but remains hopeful Sydney’s coronavirus cluster won’t force the Australia-India series to shift away from his home venue.

Cricket Australia’s preference is to keep the third Test, slated to begin on January 7, at the SCG.

But the clock is ticking on a decision as border closures and government COVID-19 restrictions present significant logistical challenges for cricket authorities.

Queensland will remain closed to Sydney until at least January 8.

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.

A change of venue for the third Test could see the Border-Gavaskar series remain in Melbourne after the upcoming Boxing Day showpiece, while an early move to the Gabba in Brisbane for the third and fourth Tests is also feasible.

The SCG and Gabba could potentially swap hosting rights for the third and fourth Tests, with travel allowed from Queensland to Sydney.

CA boss Nick Hockley has made it clear the governing body will not be rushed into making a decision.

Australian batsman Smith said he and his teammates “would love Sydney to happen”.

“I’m sure they’ll give it every chance,” Smith said.

“But I just go where I’m told and do what I need to do, and that’s the mentality of the rest of the boys as well.

“There’s people in higher places that have to make these decisions.

“I love playing at the SCG; it’s my home ground.

“I guess we’ll just wait and see and be guided by the experts.”

If the MCG is required to host successive Test matches, Smith feels the famed venue is capable of producing two decent wickets in a short space of time despite a series of below-par decks in recent years.

The MCG pitch was rated “average” by the match referee after India’s most recent visit in 2018, one year after reaching a low point when it was rated “poor” after a drawn Ashes Test.

A Sheffield Shield match at the MCG was abandoned because of a dangerous pitch last December, but the trans-Tasman Test later that month went off without a hitch.

“Last year’s (Test) wicket was probably as even between bat and ball as we’ve played on for some time,” Smith said.

“I thought it was a pretty good wicket and we’ll wait and see what’s prepared this year.

“Then if something was to happen and they needed us to play there again, I’m sure they’d be able to come up with some kind of solution.

“The groundsmen are pretty good these days at adapting to different situations.”

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