Cricket Australia’s radical COVID contingency plans
Cricket Australia has sought guarantees from broadcasters they can cover the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne as emergency alternatives for the COVID-challenged Sydney Test entered discussions.
CA met with broadcasters Fox Sports and Channel 7 in Adelaide on Saturday and discussions will intensify on Sunday if numbers from COVID cluster on Sydney's northern beaches continue to spiral.
Fox Sports officials confirmed that, as the host broadcaster responsible for the world feed, they were asked for - and gave - a guarantee they could deliver the Boxing Day Test against India.
Watch Australia v India Test Series Live & Ad-Break Free During Play with the Fox Cricket commentary team. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
While CA remain confident the Sydney Test can proceed they will start planning for other options almost immediately if the spiral continues.
Among options likely to be canvased are playing two Tests in Melbourne, swapping the order of the Sydney and Brisbane Tests or playing a Test in Canberra.
The prospect of hard border closure between NSW and Victoria is a nightmare result for a cricket schedule which was delicately stitched together after months of complex talks with India.
Fox have sent six staff, including former Test quick Brett Lee, home to Sydney and will have to make several adjustments to their schedule for Boxing Day.
But they have been planning for potential setbacks in the COVID challenged summer for months and feel confident they will deliver.
The DRS system, which would normally return to Sydney, will be sent directly to Melbourne.
If the crisis worsens but CA remains adamant it wants a Sydney Test one way to play it might be to make it the last one of the series because getting into Sydney is a lesser challenge than getting out of it.
Moving from Sydney to another venue is becoming increasingly complex due to potential border closures.
If Sydney was made the last Test the Indians could play it and then fly home.
Canberra, which hosted a Test against Sri Lanka last year, will be discussed as an option and while broadcasters enjoy the venue, it is not considered the prime option.
One left field option would be to play a Test in Brisbane and another at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast.
With the Adelaide Test delivering excellent ratings for Fox and Seven and a thoroughly gripping contest, CA is desperate to ensure all four Tests are played.
Originally published as Cricket Australia's radical COVID contingency plans