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Cricket Australia set to tighten biosecure bubble to ensure fourth Test in Queensland isn’t endangered

Cricket Australia claim their plan to play the third Test at the SCG is watertight and their ensuing passage to Brisbane wouldn’t be endangered by a rise in Sydney COVID-19 cases.

Officials on Tuesday night locked in the historic ground as the venue for the January 7 Test against India, but only after a week of high-powered meetings.

Crowds of more than 22,000 could still be let in despite Sydney’s COVID-19 outbreak, with the 50 per cent capacity at this point considered only a baseline.

But it was only possibly after an 11th hour agreement by the Queensland Government to grant exemptions to players and officials to cross the closed border for the fourth Test at the Gabba.

As part of the deal, players will move from Melbourne to Sydney just days out from the Test and remain in a strict bio-secure bubble that will limit contact with the outside.

On arrival into Queensland conditions will be just as stringent, with players only allowed to leave the hotel to train or play under the terms of the exemption.

That had prompted questions over whether a surge in Sydney cases could impact those exemptions, but interim Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley said there was no such risk.

“That was precisely the reason why we have our biosecurity protocols,” Hockley said.

Australian not out batsmen Pat Cummins, left, and teammate Cameron Green walk from the field at the close of play.
Camera IconAustralian not out batsmen Pat Cummins, left, and teammate Cameron Green walk from the field at the close of play. Credit: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP

“It’s why we have measures in place and why we are in a bubble in Sydney.

“The arrangements we have with the Queensland Government are that we can keep the players and broadcast crew all safe and they can move safely into Brisbane.”

NSW has recorded single-digit local case numbers for the past eight days, but there remains a fear of the outbreak seeding from outside the northern beaches and into greater Sydney.

Hockley would therefore not divulge whether other contingencies are in place in the event that the exemptions do become problematic.

Working in Cricket Australia’s favour at least is that they have been able to whittle the travelling party down from around 100 to 30, with limited need for moving broadcast crew.

The next great challenge for the organisation now remains what movements players can make after the Brisbane Test.

Given they will have been in Sydney within two weeks of it finishing, exemptions may be required for them to return to their home states.

Other players, including Matt Wade, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Moises Henriques could require similar exemptions to feature as marquees at the end of the BBL season.

“Players who are going onto the BBL, we will work to get the necessary exemptions if there are restrictions still in place,” Hockley said.

“We are working closely with the whole government to get this whole summer to happen.

“I think the strength of our biosecurity protocols gives us confidence in that regard.”

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