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India tour of Australia 2020-21: CA hopeful of hosting Boxing Day Test at MCG

With the growing number COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, currently there is dark cloud hovering around the fate of this year’s marquee Boxing Day Test between Australia and India at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The state of Victoria (in which Melbourne is the capital) is presently hit by the second wave of infection and it accounts for more than two-thirds of Australia’s total 21,000 cases.

Meanwhile, there are rumours in the Aussie media that the Test could be shifted to Adelaide or Perth. Even according to a report published in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday (August 8), the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust has also offered to host this high-profile Test match if the COVID-19 situation in Melbourne did not stabilise.

However, for Cricket Australia (CA) MCG still remains the first choice option for the traditional December 26-30 clash. According to Nick Hockley, the interim Chief Executive of the Australian cricket board, it is too early to decide the fate of this Test match.

“In terms of Boxing Day, it’s one of the most iconic events in the Australian sporting calendar, and we are working full steam ahead,” Hockley told reporters on a conference call on Saturday. “As long as circumstances allow, we will be doing everything we can to play the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. At the moment we are planning to have things go ahead.”

“It comes down to if we can get a crowd at the MCG we’ll play at the MCG,” Hockley was further quoted as saying by Cricket.com.au. “All the restrictions that are ongoing, we are just hopeful that they take very quick effect and we get back on top of the situation and people can get out and about, we can get back to crowds and get back to live events.”

Hockley said the CA is full steam ahead with the planning “in the anticipation that we’ll be back to some level of normalcy by that point in time”.

“It’s one of the most iconic events on the Australian sporting calendar. Certainly, at this stage we are planning full steam ahead. We’re in really constructive discussions with the BCCI (the Indian cricket board) and the government to make sure we get all the travel exemptions for India to come,” he added.

Hockley, meanwhile, also spoke about remaining “agile” under the present circumstances.

“We are having to remain agile, certainly we’re looking at contingency planning across the entire summer,” he said. “Not necessarily specific to certain matches, but our entire events. “As things change we’re doing everything we can and we have all the back-up arrangements to make sure we get cricket played.”

India will be touring Down Under at the end of this year for three T20Is, three ODIs and four Test matches between November and January. Also, before the much-anticipated Border-Gavaskar series (four-Test series between India and Australia), the Afghanistan team is scheduled to play a Day-Night Test against the Aussies at Perth.

Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at CricketNews.com in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match!

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