NSW had come to CA’s rescue months earlier after the Queensland government refused to grant exemptions allowing the Indian team and returning Australian players from the IPL to train while serving hotel quarantine.
CA chief executive Nick Hockley said health advice from the NSW government considering the impact of the outbreak on the northern beaches had informed their decision.
“Despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am delighted to say Cricket Australia remains on track to deliver the men’s international series as scheduled,” Hockley said in a statement.
“We have met regularly over the past week to assess the unfolding public health situation in Sydney and gauge its impact on border restrictions around the country. To date, we have been able to deliver a safe and successful summer thanks to our detailed biosecurity protocols and the amazing work of so many great people behind the scenes.
“To that end, we have made the decision to keep the New Year’s Test at the SCG, which has a wonderful recent history of hosting the Pink Test and Jane McGrath Day on the third day of play.
“We are confident that both this match, and the fourth Test in Brisbane, will play out in a safe and successful manner and thus round out what has been a magnificent men’s international program this summer.
“We are very grateful to the New South Wales and Queensland governments for their willingness to work with us to deliver the series as planned in a manner that places the safety and wellbeing of the players, officials, staff and the wider community as its top priority.”
Venues NSW chairman Tony Shepherd welcomed CA’s decision.
“Congratulations to Cricket Australia for their sensible and fair decision and thank you to the NSW Government for their staunch support. We will not let them down,” Shepherd said.
“The decision is no doubt in recognition of the flexibility demonstrated by the SCG, Cricket NSW and the NSW government in saving the recent One-Day and T20 International series against India that started the summer of cricket in Australia.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian made a last-ditch plea on Tuesday morning to CA before directors were due to meet.
“We’ve been working around the clock to support CA. We’ve certainly done the best we can do, and they have as well but there are also issues beyond our control,” Berejiklian said on Tuesday morning.
“I’ve said at the beginning every state government makes its own decisions but sometimes you need to consider on compassionate grounds what it means for others and I ask all governments to do that.
Players face onerous conditions in hotel quarantine in Brisbane permitting them to leave only to train and play. They may also be subjected to more time in quarantine after the fourth Test, ruling them out of taking part in the Big Bash League.
The Australian cricket team will be allowed into Queensland directly from Sydney to play their Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane, as long as they abide by the COVID bubble arrangements used for other sporting codes.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said the players and staff would have to go straight into hotel quarantine when they arrive in the state and can only leave the hotel for training and playing the match itself.
“We have had a number of discussions with Cricket Australia and they [the team] would need to follow the same arrangements that we’ve had in place for other sporting codes when they travel from a hotspot,” she said.
“I’ve just made clear what would need to occur if they were to play in Sydney and Sydney was still regarded as a hot spot at that time. Because that’s not even certain, of course.”
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Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald