New South Wales Acting Premier John Barilaro says it is up to the Queensland Government whether the SCG will host back-to-back Test matches, with Indian officials reportedly expressing concerns about having to play under quarantine conditions in Brisbane.
- Acting NSW Premier John Barilaro says Sydney is open to hosting the fourth Test
- Reports suggest India is not happy to enter a hard quarantine in Queensland for the fourth Test
- Australia has not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988 and India has never won a Test there
The Australian and Indian teams are set to fly to Sydney on Monday to continue preparations for the third Test, before flying to Queensland for the fourth and final match.
However, a source in the Indian camp has reportedly expressed concern over the team being forced into a hard quarantine upon entry to Queensland, saying they would rather the final — and possibly deciding — Test be played elsewhere.
The speculation about a venue change comes as both Cricket Australia and the BCCI investigate whether five of India’s players broke biosecurity protocols in Melbourne on Friday.
A video on social media appeared to show Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini eating inside a restaurant.
Players and staff within team hubs must sit outside when dining away from their hotel, as part of the sport’s strict protocols that have allowed the summer to go ahead.
The quintet have been separated from the rest of India’s squad, however they will be able to continue training.
Mr Barilaro said it was up to the Queensland Government to decide whether that possible breach would impact the border security protocols.
“If we’re going to put on another Test [in Sydney] after [the upcoming third Test] because of what’s happened to the breaches, that’s up to the Queensland Government,” Mr Barilaro said.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she had no concerns about the Brisbane Test going ahead with the quarantine arrangements proposed by Cricket Australia.
India reportedly unhappy about ‘quarantine conditions’
According to the report in Cricbuzz, India’s belief is that since they have served their 14 days’ hard quarantine after arriving in Australia, they should be treated like members of the public.
Under current restrictions, which were reintroduced in light of the growing cluster of cases in Sydney, visitors to Queensland from Greater Sydney must serve two weeks’ quarantine.
While harder restrictions will be in place in Sydney, Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley last week said Brisbane’s Test would be played under “quarantine conditions”.
It means teams will predominantly only be able to leave their hotels to train and play, as part of an exemption for them to cross the closed border from greater Sydney into Queensland.
Dr Young said the fact the players were coming from Greater Sydney, where there was ongoing community transmission, meant authorities wanted the Australian and Indian players to abide by stricter arrangements.
“They’ll be confined to the hotel, so we’ve worked with them that they can have bubbles within that hotel,” she said.
“They’re going to be going to play with colleagues at the matches, so they’re going to have exposure there.
“So it doesn’t concern me to have exposure to one another in the hotel, that’s absolutely fine.
“But they can’t leave the hotel and they can’t go out into the general community.”
It is a situation an Indian official said they would not be happy with, leading to speculation the team would push to have both remaining Tests played in Sydney.
However, opener Matthew Wade said the Australian team expected to play the fourth Test in Brisbane.
“The schedule has been rolled out and we prefer to stick to that,” Wade said.
“I would expect to go to the Gabba regardless if that is a quarantine-based hotel, play, come home [plan], we fully expect to go to Brisbane.”
The two teams are currently locked at 1-1 after India’s shock turnaround victory in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
When India last toured Australia in the 2018-19 season, India did not play in Brisbane.
Australia has not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988.
‘Some concerns’ still exist over SCG plan
Mr Barilaro said the main priority was to get everything ready to host the third Test in Sydney — which is set to start on Thursday, January 7.
The Acting Premier said there were “some concerns about the SCG” ahead of the Test taking place, including splitting the ground into zones and what to do if there was bad weather.
However, the principal issue is the growing Berala cluster, with people from that area set to be told they should not attend.
“Firstly, we’re putting on a Test and [NSW] Health is working with the SCG, Cricket Australia and organisers to make sure that when the next Test is played in Sydney it’s done in a safe way,” Mr Barilaro said.
“There are some concerns about the SCG and the upcoming Test that [NSW] Health is working with those organisations.
“The other thing we are concerned about is the Berala cluster.
“If you’re coming from that area, the broader Cumberland area, in real terms we encourage you to rethink about going to the Test and there may be more said by Health and the Government in the next day or so in relation to that.”